5 Great Things About Stretching
Stretching: What’s the thinking behind it?
Stretching, would you believe it, is a form of exercise.
It is an exercise where a specific muscle (or a group of muscles) is taken through a routine and is deliberately stretched. The idea here is to improve that particular muscle’s control, flexibility, and range of motion.
We do it instinctively.
Ever get up from a marathon session of working in a seated position at a desk, and just push your arms up and above you. Sometimes even going so far as standing on your toes?
Well, you are stretching.
Sunday mornings and you are buried in a pile of blankets still in bed. Curled up and contemplating the cold morning floor. Then you uncurl, point your toes forward, arch your back, and reach back with your hands to touch the headboard.
Yup, you guessed it. You were stretching.
Noticed the feelings you get from those stretches? A refreshing and unknotting feeling. A sense of being a little more alert mentally and physically.
There was a reason for those feelings, and here are five great things about stretching.
1. Flexibility. This is the most immediate and established benefit of stretching: it improves flexibility and range of motion. A good sequence of stretching — from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes — will improve any physical activity, and also help with reducing self-injury. This is particularly the case if you were to try a physical activity ‘cold,’ without a stretching/warm up session.
2. Elevated energy levels. Doing anything for a protracted amount of time during our waking hours can be draining. This is true whether you have a desk-bound job, or working on your feet. Getting in a good stretch routine might just be the thing for you. Muscles will tighten when fatigue sets in, which in turn will make us feel lethargic. So much so that your mental focus will deteriorate, and your physical coordination will also suffer. Get up and move around if you are seated. Or, stop moving and take a pause if you have been run off your feet. Stretch.
3. Blood circulation. Stretching increases the flow of blood through your muscles. This is especially invaluable for those times when you find yourself either on a long road trip or on a long haul plane flight. The benefits of increasing blood flow through your muscles aren’t only for those instances. Good blood circulation helps with cell growth and organ function. Increasing the flow of blood through your muscles will also lower your heart rate, as it doesn’t have to work quite as hard.
4. Mood elevator. Surprise, surprise: Stress causes your muscles to contract. We’ve all been there. A domineering work colleague, or boss. A mountain of laundry to go through, and dinner to prepare. Battling traffic to and from work. Our necks get tense. Shoulders start rising to our ears. Jaws start dropping towards our chest. Stretch regularly, and you would have availed yourself of some pretty impressive stress-busting benefits. Stretching loosens muscles and allows you to relax. It will encourage the release of endorphins: our body’s natural painkiller and mood elevator.
5. Athletic performance. Stretching results in a better performing you. Stretch before, during, and after your workout sessions. It will provide benefits well past your formal exercise session. You will improve your physical performance, post-workout recovery, and overall mental well-being.
I hope I have given the best of reasons and removed the worst of your resistance to stretching. The benefits are far-reaching: a looser you, is a better you.
Give it a good go.
If you would like to discuss your fitness goals with a certified expert, knowing that your specific needs will be catered to, schedule a consultation with the Fit Foundation LA today. And if you have any questions, post them in the Comments section! We would love to hear from you.