When You Don't Stretch For Your Workout, This Is What Happens

Stretching before and after a workout is more important than you might think. In fact, failing to stretch can cause harm to your body. When you stretch, you're increasing your flexibility by lengthening the connective tissue around your muscles, making it easier to move (via Well+Good.) In other words, stretching warms up your body, allowing you to move freely and use your full range of motion without hurting yourself.

Not stretching, however, reduces your flexibility and mobility and can often leave your body feeling tight and more susceptible to injury. "There will eventually be consequences because your joints are not being moved in their whole range of motion, so you might end up pulling the fascia and hurting your joints," Lara Heimann, a physical therapist and yoga teacher, told Well+Good. That is why it's important to stretch your hamstring, quad, and chest, especially if you're used to living a more active lifestyle.

How to stretch properly

Whether you're used to sitting down all day or you're constantly on the move, regular stretching can benefit your muscles and improve your overall mobility and flexibility. Learning proper stretching technique, however, is just as important. You don't want to stretch the wrong way and end up pulling a muscle.

Before you even begin stretching, you should start off with a full-body warm-up (via Verywell Fit). This can be anything as simple as going on a short walk while swinging your arms back and forth. After you're done warming up, you can begin to stretch, making sure to hold each position for up to 30 seconds. Practice the same stretch on both sides of your body, making sure to keep continuously breathing. Don't hold your breath.

Despite what the 80's aerobics craze might have told you, don't bounce while you're stretching. This can cause your muscles to tear, and result in even more tightness later on. You also shouldn't be in any pain while you're stretching. You should be able to feel your muscles stretching, but it shouldn't hurt. If you start to feel pain while you're stretching, stop immediately.