The 6 Major Health Benefits of Stretching

Whether before a workout or just to get your blood flowing in the morning, physicians and health experts around the globe agree that regular stretching can improve your health. And I am always encouraging patients to incorporate stretching exercises within their daily routines

In general, stretching helps to lower the risk of injury and improve your overall wellbeing. More specifically, stretching provides these 6 major benefits: increased range of motion, less back pain, increased flexibility, improved blood flow, a healthier heart, and less stress.

While the benefits of stretching are clear, however, there exists plenty of confusion within the fitness community about when and how we should stretch. But whether you stretch before and/or after a work-out (or through regular yoga), stretching offers the same great benefits that help reduce the risk of injury and improve overall wellbeing.

Whether before a workout or just to get your blood flowing in the morning, physicians and health experts around the globe agree that regular stretching can improve your health. And I am always encouraging patients to incorporate stretching exercises within their daily routines

In general, stretching helps to lower the risk of injury and improve your overall wellbeing. More specifically, stretching provides these 6 benefits:

 

Increased Range of Motion

As humans, we start to lose our range of motion as we age. Muscle and joint tissues retain less water which leads to less elasticity. There’s a temptation to reduce certain movements or actions altogether because of joint stiffness, but this can lead to even greater loss of range of motion. Combat a limited range of motion by stretching regularly and ensuring that your muscles remain properly trained. Overtime and with regular practice, not only does stretching enable to move more, it allows us to move easier and with less muscle discomfort. 


Less Back Pain

As a practicing chiropractor, this is largely the reason I keep encouraging patients to stretch. We are constantly putting strain on our backs and shoulders (carrying backpacks, lifting objects, long hours typing at the computer, hunched over a phone, etc.). Stretching helps to heal some of the damage, thereby improving posture, reducing rigidity and preventing back pain. Be sure to stretch both upper and lower back muscles (and ideally the hips as well) to make the most of your regular stretching routine.


Increased Flexibility

With greater range of motion comes greater flexibility. And greater flexibility improves everyday actions. Stretching lengthens the body’s muscles and improves muscle tissue elasticity. This prevents muscle strain and allows us to move through our daily activities freely and without pain. 


Improved Blood Flow

Stretching not only reduces muscle stiffness, it decreases arterial stiffness as well by increasing blood vessel elasticity. Arterial stiffness is typically due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or chronic inflammation. Improved blood flow decreases your blood pressure and increases circulation through the body. The additional blood flowing to your lungs, heart, and muscles allows them to function at the best level. And an optimally functioning body means a boost in energy, increased focus, and better memory retention.


Healthier heart

Good blood flow means less damage and blockage on artery walls which lowers the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Combined with regular exercise, sleep, and a nutritious diet, stretching can significantly improve your heart’s health and reduce any cardiovascular problems.  


Less Stress 

Stretching is a great method of relieving stress. It has the dual effect of both movement and meditation. The movement helps to increase the Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (which facilitates neuron connectivity) and serotonin production (AKA the “happiness chemical”). The meditation—focusing on form and breadth—helps to clear the mind and refresh our mood.  

While the benefits of stretching are clear, however, there exists plenty of confusion within the fitness community about when and how we should stretch. In order to maximize its benefits, we must first know the difference between dynamic and static stretching.

 

Dynamic Stretching


Dynamic stretching is shorter in duration, accompanied by some movement, and is usually done as a warm-up, prior to working out. Some examples of these stretches include high kicks, lunge twists, knee to chest, and arm circles. By activating your muscles, this type of stretching is great for boosting athletic performance and raising your heart rate. 


Static Stretching

Static stretching is longer in duration, isolated and without movement, and is best performed after working out when the body is warmed up. These are deep stretches done to improve flexibility and work out any knots in the muscle tissue (think yoga). Examples here include toe touches, tricep stretch, and cross-body shoulder stretch. These stretches are great for lengthening muscles after a weight lifting session or mile run, when the body is fully warmed up and muscles are more pliable. Static stretching also prevents muscle tightness the next day. 

Although dynamic and static stretches are performed at different times and in different ways, both offer the same great benefits that help reduce the risk of injury and improve overall wellbeing.

0
Feed

Leave a comment

hCaptcha