3 Reasons Stretching is Vital For Your Health

Stretching is not just for athletes or a post-workout essential. Experts say you should be stretching daily to keep your muscles flexible, strong and healthy. Stretching every day does not have to include every single muscle you have, rather the areas you use for mobility. These areas include the calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps. Additionally, stretching the shoulders, neck and lower back is also beneficial.

Stretching is not a one-time fix all. To reap the most benefits, you should be stretching often and remain committed. However, do 5 to 10 minutes of light activity before stretching to avoid damaging your muscles. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. You should feel tension, but not pain.

But how beneficial is stretching, really?

Reduces injury

The absence of stretching causes the muscles to shorten and become tight. When your muscles are short and tight and you partake in a physical activity you put yourself at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. Stretching keeps the muscles long, lean, and flexible, reducing your risk of injury. Specifically, dynamic stretching will prepare your muscles for the demands of the workout by increasing the blood flow to your muscles. The increase in blood flow raises your muscle temperature, which is essential for warming up.

Reduces pain and stiffness

Put down those pain relievers, because stretching can act as a natural painkiller. Studies show regular static stretching can decrease stiffness, reduce pain levels and may reduce the frequency and severity of muscle cramps.

Decreases stress

When you are stressed, your mind is not the only part of your body affected. Your body holds that stress as well, causing your muscles to be tight and tense. Your muscles constrict when you are stressed because your blood flow becomes restricted, creating tension in your muscles. Regular stretching, combined with mindful breathing techniques, has been shown to reduce mental tension and the symptoms of anxiety and depression.