7 Health Benefits of Stretching for the Body & the Mind
Are you feeling a little stiff lately? Need a boost to your workout regime? Struggling with muscle aches and pains? If so, the benefits of stretching can change your life! Stretching is an important part of maintaining your physical health. Your body needs just as much attention as your home, job, and family. But so often we can neglect the importance of stretching.
I try to stretch every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. The benefits of stretching in the morning show up in my mood and how supercharged I am to start my morning! I also find that I experience less soreness after a long workout.
Why is Stretching So Important?
As your body ages, you need to keep your muscles active. Stretching benefits not just your muscles but your bones, joints, and ligaments. By fully extending your muscles you keep them from shortening or becoming too tight. This can strain your joints and ligaments. You also want to keep your muscles active to avoid atrophy or injuries that can occur during normal activity.
In the short term, stretching will increase flexibility and mobility as well as help with blood circulation. Long-term stretching is like an insurance policy for your body. It makes sure your muscles will work effectively late in life. It also increases your chances of being able to engage in physical activity without injury. It can also lead to longevity by keeping you in a positive mindset.
Tips Before Stretching
Before adding stretching to your regular routine, here are a few tips to keep in mind to keep you safe.
Always talk to your physician, personal trainer, or fitness coach before beginning a new exercise regimen. Stretching is meant to reduce injury, not increase your chances of hurting yourself. With guidance, a professional can help correct your form and help you develop muscle memory for proper stretches.
Know your limits. Starting any new fitness journey requires patience and awareness of your limits. Maybe this is a new way for you to get to know your body but be wary of pushing yourself too hard or too fast. The goal of this is regular stretching vs. the flexibility of a gymnast.
Know the technique. Be sure to figure out the proper technique of each move before you stretch. Incorrect stretching can increase your chances of injury or put a strain on your joints. The proper technique can ensure you get all of the health benefits of stretching.
Start small. It’s best to work your way into longer stretching sessions. Start your routine out with up to 10 minutes of stretching per day. You can do this any time that works with your schedule or before or after major physical activity or your workout.
Tips While Stretching
Don’t bounce while stretching. Moving while stretching or bouncing out of a stretch can lead to injury, muscle tearing, and the development of scar tissue.
Warm-up before stretching. When muscles haven’t been moved for a while they’re considered “cold.” This can increase the possibility of energy. Try a quick walk, light jog, or a few jumping jacks to warm up your muscles before you give them a stretch.
Hold your stretch.
8 Stretching Benefits
Here’s a helpful list to highlight the importance of stretching.
The key to increasing flexibility is to increase your muscle’s range of motion. Over time, this gets your muscles to extend further. Being on the go every day or being sedentary while working from home can mean your muscles are over or under-stressed. Your muscles can shorten if they don’t fully extend.
As we get older, our flexibility can naturally decrease. The more flexible you become through stretching the more you ensure that you retain your flexibility as you get older. Flexibility training enhances your ability to perform routine tasks and heavy physical activities later in life. This can save you from pulling a muscle, and offset any stiffness or muscle atrophy that can come naturally from aging.
We all have bad days. You can reduce daily stress by stretching in the morning. Or if you’re stressed at work, stretching in the middle of your day can improve your mood and realign your focus. Stretching helps encourage your parasympathetic nervous system. This gets you out of “fight or flight mode.” We can often be overwhelmed by stress hormones because our bodies are in “fight or flight.”
Do you slump in your office chair or wear heels to work? Doing proper stretching connects us with our bodies so we are more aware of our spine’s alignment throughout the day. With practice, you will know how to sit, stand, and position your body better no matter how you work it throughout the day.
Proper stretching before physical activities like playing tennis or cooling down from a jog will decrease your chances of pulling a muscle or injuring yourself.
Breathe in. Breathe out. You don’t have to do yoga to connect with your breath. So when you are stretching, try to create a flow of stretches and pay attention to your breathing. Not only does this help calm the mind, it encourages your body to release endorphins.
Discovering your full range of motion with your joints and muscles increases flexibility as well as improves movement ability. Getting to know your body is the best way to keep the best care of it. By enhancing your range of motion you help decrease the chances of malformation, atrophy, and injury.
Stretching increases blood flow in the body. Recent studies have shown regular stretching can increase your overall cardiovascular health. Plus, by allowing better circulation of blood in your body, you are encouraging nutrients to pass more easily throughout your circulatory system.
Stretch your health game with daily stretching. Your body is a blessing. Taking the best care of your wonderful temple can ensure your body helps you to live your best life. A little daily stretching can go a long way in helping your overall energy, mind-body connection, and center yourself. Please message me about how stretching is working for you.
XO - Serena