While people rave about the many benefits of yoga and meditation (and rightly so), stretching tends to be forgotten about and is often an overlooked part of many people’s fitness routines. Even if you aren’t a professional athlete and are new to exercise, stretching should be a part of everyone’s daily routine due to the many short and long-term benefits. These include improved flexibility, posture and a reduction in body aches and stress, to name but a few. Here are 5 reasons why you should incorporate a 5-10 minute stretching routine into your day.
Improved flexibility is probably one of the things that stretching is most famous for and one of the first things that come to mind. Lots of research has been done into stretching, confirming that it can help to improve flexibility significantly as well as the range of motion of the joints and can even help to delay reduced mobility that comes with aging. Stretching increases blood circulation to the muscles, decreasing the risk of injury when exercising, and improving the performance of physical activities as the muscles work more effectively. Improved flexibility and healthier muscles also improve balance, but it’s essential to ensure that all stretches are done safely and using correct techniques to avoid injuries.
If a typical day for you includes being hunched over a laptop for hours on end, you are not alone with sedentary jobs having increased up to 83% since 1950. Sitting for so many hours a day isn’t only detrimental to our fitness, but also our postures. Nine times out of ten, most of us are sitting incorrectly, slouching, and hunching over, leading to weakened and shortened back, core, neck, and shoulder muscles. Over time our bodies start to adapt to these poor postures, leading to potentially significant health problems, not only with our physical form but impacting blood circulation and how the body produces hormones. Once we have gotten into the bad habit of slouching, it’s tough to get out of. With just five to ten minutes of stretching a day, you can strengthen your back muscles, improving postures and encouraging proper alignment. Not only will you feel better and stronger physically, but you’ll also appear taller.
We all know that stress has a significant negative impact on our bodies and general health. Long periods of stress can contribute to problems including high blood pressure and a weakened immune system as well as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
When experiencing stress, no matter the level, your muscles’ response is to tense up. Stretching is, therefore, a great stress reliever, helping you to release much-needed tensions in areas prone to holding stress such as the neck and upper back. Stress also causes your breathing to be narrow and short but can be combated by a few daily stretches. These relax the body, encourage you to be calm, and help you get a better night’s sleep – and the benefits are often immediate.
Reduces Pain After Exercise
If you’ve ever experienced stiffness and soreness after a workout, to the point where it hurts to walk or even move, you’ll know just how painful delayed onset muscle soreness can be. This is especially true if you’ve been applying the muscle mind link when weightlifting or practicing Calisthenics. Even though it is necessary to break the muscles down to repair themselves stronger than before, the immediate after-effects can cause tiredness and affect coordination, which isn’t always ideal in our daily lives. The key to reducing delayed onset muscle soreness is to prepare your body through performing dynamic stretching before you exercise rather than after. This makes it easier to deal with any pain you might experience afterwards and helps to prepare your muscles for physical activity. It is also recommended to stretch after a workout when warming down; however, if you have pulled a muscle or are incredibly sore, then you should stop. Remember that stretching doesn’t actually heal your muscles post-exercise, but just like with stress, it is a great way to release any tension or tightness that you might be feeling.
Calms the Mind
Much like meditation, stretching regularly has a calming effect on the mind, providing a mental break for the stresses of everyday life. The production of stress hormones is slowed down as stretching stimulates the nervous system’s receptors while improving the circulation and flow of blood throughout the body. Combine stretching with meditation techniques and exercising to recharge your batteries and feel calmer.
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