Stretching 101: The Healing Benefits of Stretching
What is Stretching?
Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle or tendon is deliberately flexed or stretched in order to improve the muscle’s felt elasticity and achieve comfortable muscle tone.
Why Is It Important to Stretch?
Did you know that stretching is just as important as regular exercise? Don’t believe us? Here’s why some fitness and wellness experts believe stretching is so important:
- Dr. Simon Floreani, a chiropractor and Ambassador for Allied Health and Prevention says, “Stretching releases dopamine which helps you feel happier and more positive about the world.”
- Health Evangelist Frank Lipman believes “A lack of flexibility is the root cause of many injuries and stretching is the solution to this lack of flexibility. It is the perfect antidote for long periods of inactivity and holding still and is just about the simplest of all physical activities.”
- Certified personal trainer, Nicole Palacios says, “Stretching can alleviate muscle tightness and bring your body back to feeling better balanced.”
What Are The Benefits of Stretching?
Now that we know why it is important to stretch, we’ll go over the main benefits of this exercise. Stretching:
- Helps improve flexibility
- Reduces stress
- Increases range of motion and circulation
- Alleviates pains
- Decreases muscular tension
- Boosted energy levels
- Enhanced muscular coordination
- Assists in correcting posture
- Potential to decrease injury by preparing muscles for work before activity
The benefits of stretching are almost endless as our bodies actually need circulation. Since we spend most of our day in the same posture, NOT stretching can actually cause overuse and fatigue to your muscles, making them short and tight. Furthermore, by not stretching you are causing your muscles to form adhesions and connective tissue that is not needed, decreasing circulation and flexibility and increasing the risk of tendonitis, aches and pains.
Anyone can learn to stretch, regardless of age or flexibility. Stretching should be a part of your daily routine, whether you exercise or not. There are simple stretches you can do while watching TV, on the computer, or getting ready for bed.
To get the most out of the stretching you do, here are some suggestions:
To reap the benefits of stretching, you have to do it the right way. Hold the stretch at the first sensation of resistance, and then breathe your way through it. Imagine and feel the muscle tissue becoming more elastic or bendy.
Modify, adapt, and adjust the stretch to suit your particular needs. Use padding under your knees for example, or try the same stretch sitting down, lying down, or standing up if it’s more comfortable for you. Instead of trying to stretch your whole body after every time you exercise, focus on a key area of the body each time. Spend longer on each stretch and include more stretches for each area. If you are aware of muscles that are tight, then focus on those ones.
Don’t overlook the benefits of stretching. Make sure that stretching is a regular part of your fitness program.