When you think about physical fitness, you may think of strength and cardiovascular health first. Yet, there is another key component you need to take into consideration when looking to improve your health. Flexibility is one of the five elements of fitness, so stretching should be an integral part of your workout program and everyday life. Even if you are not exercising vigorously, it is still important to stretch to receive multiple benefits for your body and mind. Here, we highlight the various benefits proper stretching provides.
The most obvious benefit of stretching is that it increases your flexibility. Flexibility is the degree to which an individual muscle is able to lengthen. As we get older, stretching becomes even more vital because we naturally become less flexible. Our muscles tighten and get shorter as we age. The effects of aging also make us more susceptible to injuries. By stretching regularly, you will be able to stay more flexible and, hopefully, avoid injuries. It also improves your range of motion, so your body does not have to work so hard. Improving flexibility can be especially helpful to those with arthritis and joint pain.
Stretching improves blood circulation. By increasing blood flow to your muscles, it can reduce soreness and recovery time after workouts. It helps nourish the muscles and eliminate waste byproducts from the muscle tissue.
Our bodies inevitably experience various aches and pains. Many people will experience tightness in hamstrings, quadriceps and hip flexors, which can cause pain in the lower back. This tightness occurs when the short and tight muscles cause you to change your movement pattern. By adopting a regular stretching routine, you can help to alleviate this problem.
Stress can take a significant toll on the mind and the body. Taking the time to relax is essential for everyone. Stretching is a great way to help your body and mind relax. It helps to relieve tightness and tension following a workout. Yoga is an excellent example of an exercise that is all about strengthening and lengthening your muscles. It can also be a great stress reliever by allowing you to take time to reconnect to your body.
In a world where we are constantly bent over keyboards or staring at our phones, our posture is negatively impacted. Stretching can help you recover from this damage and improve your posture. Lengthening tight muscles through stretching helps to loosen them, especially in your torso and back. Keeping these muscles loose helps to keep your spine in alignment and relieve backaches and back pain. When your back does not hurt, you will find it easier to maintain good posture.
Everyone has bad days. Stretching can be a great way to improve your mood during these times. Often, when you are stressed, your muscles will contract, which can affect the way you feel by causing tension. Stretching can help loosen these muscles and increase blood flow. It has also been shown to help in the release of endorphins, which help you feel happy. If you stretch when you get up, it can help energize you. Stretching before bed can also help optimize your sleep.
When mid-afternoon comes, many people become tired and lethargic. Instead of choosing unhealthy snacks at this time of day, try stretching instead. Stretching can help give you a boost of energy if you are hit with mid-afternoon slump. Just like when we are stressed, when we are lethargic, our muscles tighten up. Stretching will help loosen your muscles to help you through the day.
While stretching is an easy way to gain flexibility, it is vital to stretch properly.
Read our blog: 7 Stretching Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
When creating a regular stretching routine, make sure to choose the right approach for you. If you have any questions or concerns about adding stretching to your routine, Cary Orthopaedics Physical Therapy can help. We offer top-rated, comprehensive physical therapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitation services. With multiple, convenient Triangle locations, Cary Orthopaedics Physical Therapy can help you stretch safely to reap the benefits!