Stretching is a part of exercise that is often ignored, by seasoned athletes as well as ordinary people. Eager to begin their workout, they jump right into it without properly stretching. This can lead to pain and tightness in the muscles after a workout and can even adversely affect their overall performance.
You may think of stretching as something performed only by runners or gymnasts. But we all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence. A lot of people don’t understand that stretching has to happen on a regular basis. It should be daily!
Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which inhibits walking. Likewise, when tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, such as playing tennis, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint injury.
We all know that stretching is good for you, but most of us rarely stretch and I’m talking about stretching daily not just after exercise or stretching if we feel a slight ache or pain, so let’s talk about the benefits of stretching and this may encourage you to start a daily stretching ritual:
1.- Decreases muscle stiffness and increases range of motion. Stretching helps improve your range of motion, which may also slow the degeneration of your joints.
2.- May reduce your risk of injury. A flexible muscle is less likely to become injured if you have to make a sudden move. By increasing the range of motion in a particular joint through stretching, you can decrease the resistance on your body’s muscles during various activities.
3.- Helps relieve post-exercise aches and pains. After a hard workout, stretching your muscles helps keep them loose and lessens the shortening and tightening effect that can lead to post-workout aches and pains.
4.- Improves posture. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, shoulders and chest helps keep your back in better alignment and improves your posture.
5.- Helps reduce or manage stress. Well-stretched muscles hold less tension and, therefore, can help you feel less stressed.
6.- Reduces muscular tension and enhances muscular relaxation. Chronically tense muscles tend to cut off their own circulation, resulting in a lack of oxygen and essential nutrients. Stretching allows your muscles to relax.
7.- Improves mechanical efficiency and overall functional performance. Because a flexible joint requires less energy to move through a wider range of motion, a flexible body improves overall performance by creating more energy-efficient movements.
8.- Prepares the body for the stress of exercise. Stretching prior to exercise allows your muscles to loosen up and become better able to withstand the impact of the activity you choose to do.
9.- Promotes circulation. Stretching increases blood supply to your muscles and joints, which allows for greater nutrient transportation and improves the circulation of blood through your entire body.
10.- Decreases the risk of lower-back pain. Flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors and muscles attached to the pelvis relieves stress on the lumbar spine, which in turn reduces your risk of low-back pain.
Don’t forget to look after your body everyday. It’s the only place you have to live in.
Flexibility isn’t showing off how far your leg can stretch, it’s showing how far your perseverance can stretch.
Stretching can be especially relaxing mentally if you pair it with deep breathing. Every time you release a deep breath, imagine you’re letting go of a stressor in your life and then sink a tiny bit lower into the stretch. (Just make sure you’re not stretching to the point of pain.) Stretching in this very intentional way can definitely give you a mental boost.
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