Our bodies are a complex system of muscles, organs and joints that work in perfect synergy which enable us to carry out daily activities as we navigate through each day. Over time, the ability to move freely that most of us take for granted can degrade, inhibiting our movements and potentially worsening our quality of life. This is why regular stretching is so important. Taking a few minutes out of your day to stretch has significant health benefits and this article aims to highlight these. Follow on for Stretching: 4 Great Reasons Why You Should Practice it Daily!
1. Improve Your Flexibility & Joint Range of Motion
Flexibility usually describes the range of motion around a joint. Accessing your maximum joint range of motion is key to improving strength and mobility.
Stretching on a regular basis can help tremendously to increase your range of motion, thus increasing your flexibility which will make it easier to perform everyday activities (this is important for people with conditions like arthritis).
2. Relieve Pent up Tension & Stress
Daily stretching is also a great way to relieve stress. People can often carry stress around their bodies along with a lot of muscular tension.
This increase in tension is often attributed to physical and emotional stress (i.e. it can arise from a tough day at the office or a tough day at the track). Therefore, it is important to focus on areas which tend to hold the most tension such as the neck, back, shoulders, hip and hamstrings. Furthermore, static stretching has been found to increase parasympathetic nervous system activity which is a branch of the nervous system associated with systemic (whole body) relaxation.
3. Enhance Exercise Performance & Recovery
Stretching is an essential component for those who participate in sport at all levels, whether it be at an elite level or just recreationally.
Dynamic stretching, which is a movement-based type of stretching has been found to help prepare muscles properly before engaging in the main actual activity while also reducing the risk of muscle injury. As a result, you may also find that your performance in the activity is also improved, and that you enjoy it more too!
Post-exercise stretching is equally important, helping to reduce muscle soreness (DOMS) and reduce muscle stiffness. Typically, static stretching is favoured here, and this involves stretching a muscle close to its furthest point and then holding that position for 10-20 seconds.
Research has shown that blood flow is reduced during static stretching but appears to increase beyond pre-stretching levels after the end of the stretch. Some suggest that a ‘rebounding effect’ helps remove metabolites whilst at the same time improving the delivery of nutrients to muscle tissue, thus aiding the recovery process.
4. Improve Your Posture
Those of us who spend most of the day sitting down at a desk at work, or whilst studying may have developed poor posture over time leading to chronic neck and back pain.
Daily stretching of muscles that affect your spine such as the lower back, chest and shoulders (in addition to strength training) will definitely help to improve muscle imbalances, encourage proper alignment, reduce musculoskeletal pain and ultimately improve your posture. Definitely give yoga a try!
Stretching for just at least 5-10 minutes a day will lead to noticeable benefits in health and athletic performance. There are several different stretching techniques to suit different individuals so find one (or more) that you are comfortable doing, and in no time you’ll be moving better, more gracefully, confidently, and feeling better too than ever before!
Do you often feel strange, awkward bodily pains? Well, definitely try gentle to moderate stretching for 5-10 minutes per day. Often, in anything from 7 days to 3 months you’ll notice you begin to feel better and better and more whole as a person! Let us know how you get on in the comments below, and join in the conversation this summer on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!