Stretching has a variety of health benefits that not many people know about.
Stretching exercises are very important for flexibility, the range of motion and injury prevention. Incorporating stretching into your daily workouts is a given but including it in your daily routine is just as important to health and body functioning as regular exercise. It relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow and nutrients to your cartilage and muscles.
Not only can stretching help increase your flexibility, which is an important factor of fitness, but it can also improve your posture, reduce stress and body aches, and more.
Read on to learn more about the top 10 benefits of stretching and how to start a stretching routine.
1. Improves Performance
Performing dynamic stretches prior to physical activities has been shown to help prepare your muscles (research) for the activity.
It may also help improve your performance in an athletic event or exercise.
2. Boosts Blood Circulation
Streching increases blood flow to the muscles.
Not only will this help reduce post-workout soreness and shorten recovery time, but it will improve overall health. Greater blood circulation helps promote cell growth and organ function.
The heart rate will also lower since it doesn’t have to work as hard and blood pressure will become more even and consistent.
3. Reduces Fatigue
You’ll feel more able to withstand longer exercise sessions when you stretch before a workout, as you’ll be less likely to experience fatigue in your muscles.
Stretching awakens the areas that need more time and encouragement to wake up so that they can effectively take you through longer workouts.
4. Prevents and Helps Heal Back Pain
Tight muscles can lead to a decrease in your range of motion.
When this happens, you increase the likelihood of straining the muscles in your back. Stretching can help heal an existing back injury by stretching the muscles.
A regular stretching routine can also help prevent future back pain by strengthening your back muscles and reducing your risk for muscle strain.
5. Improves Flexibility
The most established and obvious benefit of stretching is improving flexibility and range of motion.
An effective flexibility training program can improve your physical performance and help reduce your risk of injury.
By improving your range of motion, your body requires less energy to make the same movements and you also will have more flexible joints thus lessening the likelihood of injuries acquired during workouts or during daily activities.
6. Increases Body Awareness
This not only prevents injury but also helps you gauge your energy and fatigue levels to assess whether you need to ramp up your routine or to give your body rest if performance is lagging.
Taking a moment to stretch gives you time to feel into your body, notice your heart rate, where you feel fatigue or tension, and allows you to then continue in a smart way. It’s a ‘stop, stretch, assess’ situation.
7. Helps Calm Your Mind
Participating in a regular stretching program not only helps increase your flexibility, but it can also calm your mind. While you stretch, focus on mindfulness and meditation exercises, which give your mind a mental break.
8. Improves Your Mood
A buildup of stress causes your muscles to contract, making you feel tense and uneasy. This tension can lead to having a negative impact on mind as well as your body. Stretching exercises have powerful stress-busting abilities.
Stretching soon after waking up can help jump-start the mind and body. Stretching loosens tight muscles which help your muscles both relax and increase blood flow. It also encourages the release of endorphins, providing a sense of tranquility and euphoria.
Stretching directly before bed will even give you a more comfortable sleeping experience.
9. Eliminates Lactic Acid
Especially when your exercise is intense strength training or high-intensity interval training sessions, lactic acid will most definitely be felt in the body.
Stretching helps to eliminate it from the system. Fatigue and pain may come in due to lactic acid build up, which can hinder your performance the rest of the workout. Stretching relaxes the muscles and helps to dissolve accumulated lactic acid.
10. Helps Reduce Cholesterol
Paired with a healthy diet, engaging in prolonged stretching exercises can help reduce cholesterol in the body.
This could prevent and even reverse the hardening of arteries, helping one avoid heart diseases.