Author: Justine Cosman, PT, DPT : Doctor of Physical Therapy, Business Owner, Associate Professor, and Blog Contributor. Explores common client questions and helps find solutions for every day functional health concerns, and then some. Loves empowering others, seeking adventure, and learning every day. Learn more about Justine on Google+.
Everyone knows that exercise is a part of healthy living, but do you consider a stretching routine part of your exercise program, or as an afterthought that gets done if time permits? Since no one ever has enough time, you may want to reconsider how you view exercise, as there are so many benefits to a stretching program. Everyone can learn to stretch, regardless of age or flexibility. Stretching should be a part of your daily routine, whether you exercise or not. It does not have to involve a huge amount of time, but stretching can end up giving you huge results!
Five Important Benefits of Stretching:
Reduced muscle tension
Increased range of movement in the joints
Enhanced muscular coordination
Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)
How Do These Benefits Help You?
An abundance of research explains that there can be many benefits of stretching on a routine basis, even if you are not an avid runner or athlete. Stretching can benefit you in the following ways:
Infuses You with Optimism
People who are stressed often have contracted muscles. In turn, these muscle contractions give a physiological and an emotional feeling of tenseness and overall unease. When you feel these sensations, try stretching to loosen tight and simultaneously increases blood flow. Stretching has also been shown to aid in the release of endorphins, a natural body substance that helps you attain a feeling of joy and serenity. Stretching when you wake up is a great way to start your day and stretching before bed can optimize your sleep.
Stretching is a Great Midday Pick-Me-Up
Most people feel a little lethargic around mid-afternoon. If this describes you, try some stretching at your desk. Often, people who suffer from mid-afternoon fatigue find that stretching gives them a boost of energy. When we feel lethargic, our muscles tighten; stretching loosens up these muscles. Stand up and stretch to combat your midday fatigue!
Lower Your Cholesterol
Stretching on a routine basis and eating a healthy diet can help reduce cholesterol. In turn, reductions in cholesterol can prevent, and may even reverse, hardening of the arteries. Stretching also serves to aid in avoiding heart disease.
Better Blood Circulation
A stretching routine increases blood flow to your muscles which can help with the following:
Reductions in post-exercise soreness and recovery time
Improvement of overall health
Makes You More Flexible
Did you know that improved flexibility results in an improved range of motion, making your body work less while moving? Also, stretching lessens the likelihood of injuries during exercise or other sports activities.
Stretching Improves Your Posture
When you stretch, you lengthen tight muscles that tend to pull parts of your body away from their intended positions. It is important to keep your muscles loose, especially in the back and torso. This helps to keep your spine in alignment and to relieve backaches and back pain. When back pain is alleviated, you tend to have better posture.