Stretching is beneficial for your overall health and should be a part of your daily exercise routine. In previous blog posts, we have talked about things like stretching before bed and its benefits. However, in the below post we wanted to give you the basics on why should you stretch. At a high level, it strengthens muscles, enhances flexibility, and even prevents disease. Cardiovascular activity and muscular development are essential. However, as an additional component of total health, flexibility, should not be overlooked.
Stretching can often feel like something you can skip after a great workout. I mean, you worked up a great sweat and threw some weight around. You did the hard part – surely it’s okay to skip stretching to go refuel? Not so fast. Spending a few minutes stretching can have a big impact on helping you avoid injuries, increase flexibility, and cool down. There are numerous additional benefits and you should be doing it regularly.
Stretching regularly can help you enhance your flexibility. This is essential for your general health and a key reason for why should you stretch. Improved flexibility can enable you to accomplish regular tasks more efficiently. It also helps postpone the loss of movement that comes with aging.
Sitting at a desk all day can cause your body’s range of natural movement to be limited. When this happens, all sorts of problems begin to crop up. Numerous aches and pains are due to a lack of flexibility or tight muscles limiting proper movements.
Along the same lines as flexibility above, stretching can help you improve your mobility. You have more mobility when you can move a joint over its full range of motion. Regular stretching might help you enhance your motion range. When it comes to expanding the range of motion, both static and dynamic stretching are helpful. PNF-type stretching, which involves maximum straining of the muscles, may be more beneficial for immediate benefits.
As a side note, what is the difference between flexibility and mobility? Flexibility is the ability of a muscle to lengthen passively. Examples would be situations where it is pulled externally by another person, by another muscle group, or by gravity. Mobility is the ability of a joint to move actively through a particular range of motion on its own. This would be without being pulled externally.
Warming up before an exercise can help you avoid injury, and one element of a proper warm-up is dynamic stretching. Warming up your muscles, joints, and tendons with dynamic stretching enhances your range of motion momentarily. As a result, you’ll be able to do your workouts with optimal body preparation.
Of course, there is data out there showing that static stretching before a competition isn’t always the best for performance. However, this is only for competitive athletes – for nearly everyone else the injury avoidance benefits likely outweigh the performance impact. Additionally, scientists have shown dynamic stretching before a competition is beneficial. This is a primary reason that athletes give for why should you stretch.
Increased Physical Performance
Although some studies suggest that static stretching has little effect on exercise performance, dynamic stretching appears to be essential. It removes muscular tension built up through working out or just day-to-day activities. Researchers have found that dynamic flexes before physical activities assist muscles in preparing for the activity. This may also aid in the improvement of your sports or workout performance.
Increased Blood Flow to Muscles
A stretching routine may help to boost circulation. Improved circulation enhances blood flow to the muscles, reducing muscular discomfort. Improved blood flow also means more nutrients flowing to the muscles and more waste being taken away. This can improve workout recovery time, reduce soreness, and improve injury recovery time.
Muscle imbalances are common, and they can lead to poor posture. However, according to research, exercising and stretching specific muscle groups can help alleviate musculoskeletal discomfort and promote appropriate posture. As a result, your posture could improve. Improper posture is often caused by tight muscles pulling your body into unhealthy positions. Stretching regularly is a key component of improving your posture.
Heals and Prevents Persistent Back Pain
Motion range may be reduced as a result of tight muscles. When it happens, you increase the chances of hurting the back muscles. Stretching the muscles can help heal an underlying back issue. Stretching regularly can prevent future back pain by tightening the back muscles and lowering the risk of muscular tension. Psoas muscle stretches are just one of the many stretches that researchers have shown to help with lower back pain.
When you’re stressed, your muscles are likely to be tight. This happens because muscles tense up in reaction to physical and mental stress. Pay special attention to the body parts where tension is stored, like the shoulder, upper back, and neck. Stretching can soothe these muscles and release tension throughout your body. A recent study found that traders merely sitting at a desk watching price movements for just 10 minutes experienced increased tension in their upper back and neck.
Along the same lines, tension headaches may make your life difficult. In combination with a healthy diet, appropriate hydration, and lots of rest, stretching can help relieve headache tension.
As discussed above daily stretching can help you relieve tension. This can help you to relax. Focus on meditation and mindfulness techniques while stretching to give the mind a reprieve as well. Daily stretching can be an effective self-care activity that leads to relaxation.
Now that we have covered why should you stretch, here are a few things to remember to get the most out of it.
Stretch Timing Matters
The timing of static and dynamic stretches differs. As previously mentioned, exercisers should do dynamic stretches before their workout. When done before a competitive activity, static stretching, on the contrary, might be detrimental to performance. According to research, doing it shortly before an activity might slightly diminish strength, power, and athletic ability. Therefore, it should be reserved for your rest day’s cool-down, some active recovery, or non-competitive events.
Specific Stretches Go Well with Specific Workouts
If you’re stretching before a workout, focus on dynamic stretches that engage the muscles you’ll be working on. For example, if you’re running, practice dynamic stretches that target the leg muscles, such as butt kicks, high knees, etc. When stretching after a workout, choose exercises that target the particular muscles you just exercised.
Stretching Should not be Painful
Stretching exercise may not always be pleasant, but it should not be painful. So, what if your stretch hurts? Back off. If you experience any stinging or numbness, you could be straining a nerve. You should back off immediately. Allow the discomfort to pass, then start stretching — just not that far.
Stretching once will not give you great flexibility tomorrow. However, consistent stretching will benefit you over time. While stretching feels great, don’t allow it to take over your training regimen. Balance is crucial in exercise. Make sure you schedule time for other aspects of exercise as well.