Fitness

9 Benefits to Stretching

woman-stretching-on-mat

For the next few weeks, the theme on the exercise posts will revolve around subject of how you can have an effective workout while you are at home.

For some of you, you may be starting a new exercise regimen, so allow me to suggest that you add muscle stretches into your regular routine. Even if you have been exercising for a awhile, adding stretches now will benefit you by helping you prevent injuries and improving your strength.

Healthline has a nice article highlighting the benefits of stretching, and some basic tips.  Check it out here 

So, what’s the point? Why should you stretch? Here are 9 reason why.

  1. Increases your flexibility – Stretching can help delay the reduced mobility that can come with aging, as well improve your performance within your daily activities
  1. Increases your range of motion – Stretching on a regular basis can help increase your range of motion.
  1. Improves your performance in physical activities – Stretches prior to physical activities has been shown to help prepare your muscles for the activity. Your muscles are “cold” prior to activity, thus they are not as pliable as they would be once they are “warm” with activity. Warm muscles allow you to fully engage in activities.
  1. Increases blood flow to your muscles –Improved circulation increases blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness
  1. Improves your posture-  One study found that a combination of strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment.
  1. Helps to heal and prevent back pain- Tight muscles can lead to a decrease in your range of motion. When this happens, you increase the likelihood of straining the muscles in your back.
  1. Is great for stress relief – When you’re experiencing stress, there’s a good chance your muscles are tense. That’s because your muscles tend to tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress.
  1. Can calm your mind – While you stretch, focus on mindfulness and meditation exercises, which give your mind a mental break.
  1. Helps decrease tension headaches- Stretching may help reduce the tension you feel from headaches.

Let’s start with some definitions as this will guide us through a stretching routine

 Static stretches involve holding a stretch in a comfortable position for a period of time, typically between 10 and 30 seconds. This form of stretching is most beneficial after you exercise.

 Dynamic stretches are active movements that cause your muscles to stretch, but the stretch is not held in the end position. These stretches are usually done before exercise to get your muscles ready for movement.

 You can stretch any time during the day. On days you exercise:

  • Do 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching before exercise
  • Do 5 to 10 minutes of static after exercise

On days when you aren’t exercising, do at least 5 to 10 minutes of stretching as this will continue to help improve your flexibility.

And here’s some additional tips:

  • DO NOT BOUNCE. That “ballistic” stretch approach has been shown not to work
  • Hold your stretch for 30 seconds. This will provide the best impact for the muscles
  • Don’t over stretch. Tension is good, pain is not. Start slow as the body will need to adapt to this stress, and gradually build up to more stretches over a course of weeks.
  • Focus on major parts of the body as this will improve mobility: calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, shoulders, neck, and lower back.

Now that you have the basics of stretching, go mix it up, get a little sweaty, because afterwards, you are going to feel great. But before you leave, be sure to subscribe to the Wide-Body site, at Wide-Body.com. Subscribing is free, and I’ll keep you informed of the activities at the Wide-Body as well as have special offers just for subscribers.

Take care and enjoy life!