If stretching isn’t part of your exercise routine, you may want to consider integrating it into your regimen. Stretching offers a multitude of benefits including better flexibility, stronger muscles, reduced risk of injury, and better posture. Our muscles and ligaments are meant to be moved regularly, and if they’re not this can cause joint stiffness, weak bones, and many other physical ailments. And if we overdo it during our routine, it can cause injury, and lead to a huge interruption in our workout schedule - another reason to consider stretching!
In addition to physical benefits, stretching can also have added beneficial effects on our mental states - from stress relief to getting a good night’s sleep.
Here are some of the benefits of stretching:
Without flexibility our muscles shorten and become weak. When we participate in any activity that involves lots of movement and strength, our muscles can tense up and cause injury. Stretching regularly will help our bodies be limber, which not only reduces the risk of hurting ourselves, but helps to delay the decreased mobility that tends to come with age.
Sleeping More Soundly
Getting enough sleep is extremely important to our overall physical and mental well-being. Daily stress can affect our ability to get to bed when we want to - our minds may begin to race, or be over-stimulated. One way to help settle down at night is to stretch slowly, holding the movements in place and focusing on our muscles. Yoga before bed is a great way to do this and can help us to unwind, slow down, and de-stress.
Reduce Back Pain
Many people suffer from back pain, be it from too much exercise, sleeping uncomfortably, or stress. Stretching can help alleviate this pain by loosening tight muscles and increasing blood flow in the area. There are many different stretches that focus on the various parts of the back and a few yoga poses that will help relieve pain fairly fast.
Bad posture is extremely common - especially if you work at a desk for eight hours a day. It can lead to back pain and cause muscular imbalance in the back and chest. Stretching both your back and chest can help to reduce the weakening of these muscles, reduce back pain (as we said above), and lead to better overall posture.
Readies the Body for Physical Activity
Spending time stretching before putting any type of strain on your body is always a good idea. It increases blood flow to our muscles and lengthens them for heightened flexibility. By doing this, it can maximize our strength and allow us to work out longer. Stretching after exercise can also be beneficial, helping to prevent injury and stabilizing our muscles.
The benefits of stretching can’t be overstated. From stress relief to preventing injury, a good ten to fifteen minutes a day is worth the time. Stretching has also been tied to decreased tension headaches & migraines, reduced body aches, stronger bones, mental clarity, and overall heightened physical performance.
And as always, before starting any new exercise routine, be sure to consult with a medical professional.