Stretching on a regular basis can benefit your health in numerous ways. Stretching boosts your flexibility, which plays an important role in keeping you physically and mentally fit. Also, stretching can help you maintain your posture and may even help with back pain. If you're still wondering whether or not you should stretch, read more about the prominent benefits of stretching below and see for yourself (Verywellfit).
Regular stretching is important to increase and maintain flexibility as you age. Also, flexibility is important so that you can get through your daily routine with ease. If your muscles and joints are tight and stiff, you may run the risk of injury when performing daily tasks.
2. Range of Motion
You should be able to move your joints through their full range of motion without pain or discomfort. Sitting idle and failing to stretch can reduce your ability to move your joints to their full capacity. With regular stretching, you can fix this problem and comfortably enjoy a full range of motion.
Stretching prepares your muscles for any strenuous activity. Whether you're heading out on a run, going to yoga class, or preparing to play a sport, warm up with dynamic stretching so that you can offer your best performance. Stretching before and after physical activity may help increase performance and the efficiency of your cool down.
4. Blood Flow
Regular stretching may improve blood circulation to your muscles, which can reduce the time that your body needs to fully recover after a workout. This also helps alleviate muscle soreness so that you can get up the next day with minimal pain and discomfort.
Today, poor posture is quite common because of muscular imbalance. But, a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises can help reduce your musculoskeletal pain and correct poor posture (mindbodygreen.com).
6. Back Pain
If your muscles are tight, you can't enjoy a full range of motion and you may be at a higher risk of straining your back muscles. According to experts at Harvard Medical School, stretching and strengthening the back muscles are extremely important for fixing and preventing future back pain.
7. Stress Relief
When you go through emotional and physical stress, your muscles tighten up. Over time, this can lead to chronic muscle tightness and inflexibility. Frequent stretching can help relieve muscular tension from stress, especially in the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and neck.
8. Mental Peace
Joining a stretching program can help you calm your mind and let go of day-to-day stressors. You can try meditation exercises to give your mind a break and find a sense of peace. You may even find that a stretching and meditation session can become an invaluable part of your daily routine.
9. Tension Headaches
Tension headaches can have a negative impact on your quality of life, but stretching may help to get rid of them. In addition to enough rest, adequate hydration, and a healthy diet, you might want to engage in a stretching program to help you reach you optimum health and let go of pain from stress-induced headaches.
How Should You Stretch?
There are two basic forms of stretching that we'll discuss here. More stretching techniques exist, but the two that are good for beginners are static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is the classic reach-and-hold method, meaning that you reach, stretching the muscle to "mild discomfort," and hold for 10-30 seconds. Dynamic stretching involves shorter motions that push the muscles through their range of motion. Instead of reaching for your toes and holding for 10 seconds, you would reach for your toes 5-6 times over the ten seconds (Livestrong).
When Should You Stretch?
There is no fixed time for stretching. Some like to stretch before their workout, after their workout, or both. That being said, the current recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine is to stretch at least 2-3 times per week.
While stretching, your focus should be on the main parts of your body that allow you to move, like your quadriceps, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves. For your upper body, you can try stretching exercises that target your lower back, neck, and shoulders.