The striking benefits of stretching

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The striking benefits of stretching

You remember to lift your weights and to increase your heart rate with aerobic exercise.  But, you’re forgetting one thing – to stretch.  It’s not enough to build muscle and achieve aerobic fitness. You also need to think about flexibility. If you want to protect your present and future mobility and independence, daily stretching needs to be a part of that plan.

The bulk of most typical workouts usually focus on some sort of aerobic activity along with strength  training with only a small fraction devoted to stretching, it at all.  This often overlooked but very necessary component of a well-rounded fitness routine is one not to ignore.  The results may not be as noticeable as lifting weights or doing 50 lunges or squats but don’t underestimate the power of stretching.  Just the very movement of elongating your body in all angles can lead to more benefits in your overall looks, energy, and confidence than you can ever imagine.

Loss of flexibility and range of motion puts a damper on our lifestyle hindering day-to-day activities.  None of us set out to stiffen up as we age but we will if we don’t do basic stretching movements every day.  Even if you do not have a regular fitness routine, at the very least, do stretching each and every day to keep yourself in decent condition. 

Here are 6 best reasons why all of us must do simple movements of some form of stretching and how it benefits us in the long run:

1. Improves physical performance reducing risk of injury and muscle soreness 

Ever wonder why athletes will often stretch before a game?  Whether you participate in sports or not, basic stretching anytime of the day is always good helping to keep your muscles loose without tightening up.  Many people will experience undue muscle soreness particularly after doing major physical work such as heavy lifting or movements they don’t normally do.  Regular stretching can prevent soreness in muscles since the stretched muscles are more used to being used.

2.   Improves posture

Chronically tight and tense muscles can contribute to poor posture.  Stretching can help fix that by lengthening tight muscles and help keep the spine in better alignment while improving overall posture. 

3.   Reduces risk of low back pain

An estimated 75 to 85 percent of all Americans will experience some form of low back pain during their lifetime.  Muscles in our lower back are often neglected and those muscles will stiffen over time if not regularly stretched. By doing regular flexibility and stretching movements for the back, this can at least keep the muscles from becoming taunt and allow more movement and less pain in this area of the body.

4.   Increases blood and nutrients to the tissues

Studies have shown stretching does increase blood flow to the muscles and with this increase it brings a greater supply of nutrients.  Those vital nutrients help to reduce muscle soreness and speeds recovery from muscle and joint injuries.  When your muscles feel less sore, the less painful it will be to work the muscles again.

5.   Improves muscle coordination

You can always tell people who regularly stretch – they move with more ease and grace.  They have a greater range of motion helping lead to better balance and muscle coordination. 

6.   Reduces stress and tension

Stress can build up causing your muscles to contract becoming more tense leading to aches and pain throughout the body.  Stretching just 10-15 minutes a day calms the mind while recharging the body to better able to handle stressful situations. 

Practicing different forms of stretching

Every single day do some form of stretching.  Designate a time of day you set aside to stretch out your body – it could be first thing in the morning, after taking a hot bath or before bedtime.  Whether it’s Pilates, yoga, tai chi, barre exercises or just basic stretching, it all adds up to a more flexible and healthier you.