What You Need To Know About Stretching
Stretching is a crucial aspect of fitness and well-being that is often overlooked. While many people associate stretching with simply getting ready for a workout, the benefits of stretching go much further than that. Regular stretching has been shown to increase flexibility, improve posture, reduce stress, and help alleviate body aches and pain. Additionally, stretching can also enhance athletic performance, increase blood flow to muscles, calm the mind, and even decrease tension headaches.
Here are nine benefits of stretching that you should know about:
- Increases Flexibility One of the key benefits of stretching is that it can help increase your flexibility. This is an important aspect of fitness that is often overlooked, but it’s crucial for your overall health. With improved flexibility, you’ll be able to perform everyday activities with ease and delay the reduced mobility that can come with ageing.
- Increases Range of Motion (ROM) Stretching on a regular basis can help increase your range of motion, allowing you to move a joint through its full range of motion, and giving you more freedom of movement. Research has shown that static and dynamic stretching can effectively increase the range of motion. However, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)-type stretching, where you stretch a muscle to its limit, may be more effective for immediate gains.
- Improves Athletic Performance Dynamic stretching, which involves active movements that cause your muscles to stretch, has been shown to help prepare your muscles for physical activity. Performing dynamic stretches prior to an athletic event or exercise can improve your performance and get your muscles ready for movement.
- Increases Blood Flow to Muscles Stretching regularly can improve circulation and increase blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness. Improved blood flow to your muscles is essential for your overall health and well-being, and stretching can help achieve that.
- Improves Posture Muscle imbalances are a common issue, and they can lead to poor posture. A combination of strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment, which in turn can improve your posture. So, if you’re someone who spends a lot of time sitting at a desk, stretching regularly can help improve your posture and prevent pain and discomfort.
- Heals and Prevents Back Pain Tight muscles can decrease your range of motion, leading to straining the muscles in your back. Stretching can help heal an existing back injury by stretching the muscles, and it can also help prevent future back pain by strengthening your back muscles and reducing your risk for muscle strain.
- Is Great for Stress Relief Stress can have a profound impact on your body, and when you’re experiencing stress, your muscles tend to tense up. Focusing on areas of your body where you tend to hold your stress, such as your neck, shoulders, and upper back, and performing stretches can help relieve tension and reduce stress.
- Calms the Mind Participating in a regular stretching program increases your flexibility and can also calm your mind. While stretching, you can focus on mindfulness and meditation exercises, which give your mind a mental break and help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Decreases Tension Headaches Tension and stress headaches can be a real hindrance to your daily life. In addition to a proper diet, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest, stretching may help reduce the tension you feel from headaches and improve your overall well-being.
There are several types of stretching techniques, including dynamic, static, ballistic, PNF, passive, and active stretching. The most common forms of stretching