We all know that exercise is important for our health, but what about stretching? Do you consider your stretching routine to be as important as your exercise routine? Stretching offers many benefits to the body. It improves your flexibility and range of motion, enhances athletic performance, and decreases your risk of injury. Understanding just how important stretching is for health may encourage you to place it right up there with your daily exercise routine.
Benefits of Stretching
Research shows that stretching can help improve flexibility and range of motion. It also improves your performance in physical activities, decreases your risk of injuries, and helps your muscles work more effectively by increasing blood flow to your muscles.
Below, we’ll discuss more in depth the top benefits of flexibility.
Being Flexible Can Help Reduce Your Risk of Injuries
Developing strength and flexibility helps you withstand more physical stress. Flexibility also helps you correct muscle imbalances, which will reduce your chance of getting injured during physical activity.
Flexibility can help you reduce physical pain. Lengthening and opening your muscles helps your body feel better overall. When your muscles are looser and less tense, you’ll experience fewer aches and pains. You may also be less likely to experience muscle cramps.
Improved Physical Posture & Balance
Focusing on increasing muscular flexibility helps your posture improve. Not only does it correct muscular imbalances, but with increased range of motion your body can move into various positions with more ease.
Stretching Can Improve Your Mental Health
Regular stretching can also support your relaxation, both mentally and physically. This may make it easier for you to unwind and reduce stress.
Being More Flexible Can Improve Your Strength
As you get more flexible, it is important to also increase your strength. Strength and flexibility support each other in making your movement more efficient and your body more physically fit.
Flexibility Enhances Your Physical Performance
With more ease of movement from stretching, you’ll be able to perform better in any physical task, as your muscles are working more effectively.
While you can stretch anytime, anywhere, proper technique for stretching is key. Stretching incorrectly can actually do more harm to your body than good.
Use these tips to keep your stretching safe:
- Don't use stretching as a warmup. Many people make the common mistake of stretching as a warm up exercise. A little bit of light stretching may be okay, but deep stretches are better after your body has warmed up.
- Make sure to stretch symmetrically. Make sure to focus on having equal flexibility side to side. Flexibility that is not equal on both sides may be a risk factor for injury.
- Focus on major muscle groups. Concentrate your stretches on major muscle groups such as your thighs, hips, low back, neck, calves, etc. and take extra care to stretch muscles and joints that you use routinely.
- Hold your stretch. Breathe normally and hold each stretch for about 30 seconds, or longer in areas of greater tension. Focusing on your breathing can help a lot here. Breathe into the tension and try to relax the tension as you breathe out.
- Don't push yourself. It is normal to feel tension when stretching, but not pain. If it feels painful, then you've pushed too far. Back off to the point where you don't feel any pain, but still feel tension, then hold the stretch.
- Be consistent. Stretching can be time-consuming, but you achieve the most benefits by stretching regularly. When you skip regular stretching you don't make much progress in your flexibility and you risk losing the potential benefits.
Flexibility is important for physical health, and stretching is the best way to improve your flexibility. Research shows that stretching can improve range of motion, can enhance your performance in physical activities, decreases your risk of injuries, and helps your muscles work more effectively by increasing blood flow to your muscles.
While you can stretch anytime, anywhere, proper technique for stretching is key. Stretching incorrectly can actually do more harm to your body than good. Use the tips in this article to help you stretch safely, so you can feel the amazing benefits of improved flexibility.