I'm the first to admit that I was guilty of not always taking the time to stretch before my workouts. Now I am a convert and stretch religiously before and after exercise and; I feel so much better for it. My performance has improved but so too has my recovery time post exercise.
You could be mistaken for thinking that stretching is only for runners, tri-athletes, weight lifters, cyclists and people who exercise but this is simply not the case. It is essential for muscular health and joint flexibility.
In clinic I commonly see chronically tight hip flexors, neck and shoulders. Typically desk based jobs play a large part in these particular types of muscle tightness. As a result of the hip flexors being held in a shortened position for prolonged periods and the shoulders rolled forward with a forward head position. Daily stretching can play a significant part in reducing the overall tightness in these muscles and this is why I usually set people homework to continue to do stretches after they have seen me as they are complimentary to massage and increase the benefits. By getting people to gently elongate these tight muscles the daily aches and pains that they have been experiencing will reduce; while their joint range of motion will increase.
Stretching maintains flexibility in the joints as well as healthy muscles. When the body becomes inflexible there will be subsequent stiffness in the muscles and ligaments; this in turn creates more inflexibility and muscular pain.
Whether stretching to warm up or cool down or to loosen up tight muscles the benefits are important.
* Improved range of movement