While stretching your muscles and joints may seem like only a small part of the necessary movement to include in your day, it is actually far more significant.
Stretching your body boasts a multitude of both mental and physical benefits for those who practice it regularly. From bodily improvements to stress reduction, implementing a daily stretching routine can offer major positive changes in your life.
What exactly is stretching, anyway? Stretching is, fundamentally, any movement that temporarily elongates the muscles along with the tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. It can be done alone, or in conjunction with other exercise practices such as yoga, Pilates, or Tai-Chi.
Two main categories of stretching make up most of the variety of stretches you may wish to include in your practice:
- Dynamic Stretching: stretches that involve active, controlled movements performed through a larger range of motion. These stretches are most often done as part of pre-workout. Examples: walking lunges, arm circles, or deep squats.
- Static Stretching: stretches that involve moving into an end range of motion and then holding that position. These stretches are practiced most often after exercise. Examples: pulling your heel up to your butt to stretch your quad or bending and pulling your elbow over your head to stretch your tricep.
Let’s jump in and learn more about why stretching is an essential part of your health and how it can upgrade your life.
- Enhances your flexibility and range of motion.
Establishing a stretching routine is great for assisting your muscles and joints in becoming more flexible. Improved flexibility can make everyday physical movement much easier, and can even help prevent future age-related mobility problems. With increased flexibility comes an increased range of motion. As your body becomes more flexible, you will also notice that your range of motion is better. One study determined that both static and dynamic stretches are effective for improving the range of motion.
- Increases your blood flow and oxygen levels.
Research suggests that regularly stretching your body can strengthen your overall circulation and oxygen levels. This leads to better blood flow to your muscles which can reduce muscle soreness after you exercise and furthermore, increases your energy. Likewise, stretching is also efficient in delivering nutrients as well as removing metabolic waste like carbon dioxide, ammonia, and uric acid that has built up in your body.
- Helps with chronic pain.
A regular stretching routine has been shown to both prevent and treat certain types of pain. Whether you experience back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, or any other number of health issues that create chronic pain, stretching has the potential to relieve nearly all of them by some percentage. Stretching also helps improve joint function, circulation, and may even increase pain tolerance.
- Corrects your posture.
If you are prone to slouching or have muscle imbalances that result in poor posture, stretching could be the answer you’ve been looking for. One study found that strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups reduced musculoskeletal pain and encouraged better alignment. Overall, improving your posture promotes more strength, balance, and flexibility in your body.
- Aids in calming and stress relief.
Those tense muscles you experience are often a response to your emotional state. Stretching regularly as you focus on areas of your body where you hold tension can work it out and result in more blood flow, a boost in your oxygen levels, a lower heart rate, all of which assist in calming you down. The science even says that stretching is linked to an increase in serotonin, the hormone responsible for mood stabilization. Keeping a stretching routine can help you consistently maintain a healthier mental space.
As you consider the benefits of stretching, it is important to remember that starting a new stretching routine should be taken seriously and started slowly to give your body a chance to adapt to new movements. Ultimately, creating a stretching routine should bring about many positive changes for you if you remain consistent.
Disclaimer: The Sanctuary for Mind, Body, & Spirit does not give medical advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Never disregard the advice of a medical professional, or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.