The benefits of stretching

Stretching is important for people of all ages. One of the greatest benefits is the increase in range of motion, which means your limbs and joints can move freely and further before an injury occurs. It is important to stretch after a warm up, not beforehand when the muscles are cold. A good warm up prepares the body for exercise by increasing blood flow to the working muscles and joints. This is done by gradually elevating your heart rate through large muscle movements such as brisk walking, jogging or cycling.

The 3 most common stretching techniques to improve flexibility are:

  • Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching involves contracting and holding a targeted muscle in a stretched position
  • Dynamic stretching – Uses large movement patterns to stretch muscles and joints, such as jumping, kicking or arm / shoulder circles. It is a technique most commonly used as part of a warm-up
  • Static stretching – the targeted muscle group is extended to the point of strain (not pain!) and held for 20-30 seconds

A regular stretching program can offer a range of benefits:

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased range of movement in the joints
  • Enhanced muscular coordination
  • Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
  • Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)

Be kind to your muscles and they will be kind to you!

These 6 important stretches (especially for runners!) can get you started : (includes pictures)

  1. Lying Hamstring
  2. Lying Gluteal/Hip Hug
  3. Kneeling Hip Flexor
  4. Standing Quadriceps
  5. Standing Single-Leg Calf
  6. Standing ITB at wall



SparkPeople, Stretching guide, viewed 5 june 2015,

Cate, A. 2015, ‘6 things you need to know about stretching’, Blackmores, viewed 5 June 2015,

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