Think about what improving your fitness means. You’re probably not picturing someone stretching, but it is an integral part of any fitness regimen. It is actually an important component to any routine and even inactive people can reap the rewards.

Tight muscles cannot physically do all the work they are meant to do, they are too short. The work (walking, climbing stairs, and getting into your car) still must be done. To compensate, a tight muscle becomes underactive and off-loads work to surrounding muscle groups. Injury occurs when those muscle groups are overloaded with a workload they were never meant to handle.

As an example, most people have tight hamstrings (back of the thigh). Hamstrings work very closely with the butt muscle and unload work onto the front of the thigh. The two immediate implications of this tight muscle are (1) underactive butt muscles and hamstrings, which leads to (2) overactive thighs. Injuries associated with this imbalance include front knee and lower back pain.

If you are experiencing knee or low back pain, you will undoubtedly benefit from stretching your hamstrings, butt muscles, and IT band. Better yet, if you have access to a foam roller, roll out those areas and hold on any “hot spots” for thirty seconds.

If you are active and pain-free, stretching will improve your range of motion and therefore your benefit from every repetition.

Stretching is one of the few fitness pursuits which gives results fast. Stretch today; see the progress in a few weeks.