Don’t try to lie. I know that you rarely stretch your muscles. I think we’re all guilty of neglecting to stretch after a great workout. What you may not know though is that by spending those extra ten minutes, you can add so much to your life than just flexibility.
Exercising your muscles is one thing. Stretching them is a completely different ball game. I know we’re all told to make sure we get a good stretch in, but so few of us actually listen to these instructions. There’s a reason you see all those posters of different stretches hanging up all over the gym.
Okay, okay. I’ll get to the point already. We all know that stretching is beneficial for us, but how much does it actually affect our health? Here is how stretching every day can benefit your life.
The most obvious reason to stretch is for your own flexibility. As you get older, your muscles tighten and your range of motion decreases. Improving your flexibility is a perfect way to loosen yourself up, get rid of stiff muscles and make your everyday tasks that much easier.
2. Joint health
Believe it or not, stretching can immensely help your joints. If the muscles that surround your joints are tight and tense, this can cause issues in using that joint. Your movements will be slow, limited and sometimes even painful. By lengthening those muscles, you’re freeing your joint up so it can move loosely and without difficulty.
Stretching is proven to increase circulation. We all know how beneficial circulation is for a healthy mind and body. When you stretch, you’re increasing your body’s circulation and getting more oxygen to your vital organs and muscles, including your brain. This aids in so many bodily functions that you’ll feel better even after a quick 10-minute stretch.
4. Muscle repair
Since stretching increases your body’s circulation so much, it has great healing properties for your muscles. Not only is this important for your muscle function, but it also benefits them post workout. By helping them to repair quicker, you’re getting much more out of your workout if you stretch regularly than if you don’t.
5. Increased energy
Sure, coffee is great for kicking up your energy levels, but so is stretching! Again, an increase in your body’s circulation does more than just get your blood pumping. By getting more oxygen to your vital organs, you will discover that this also makes you feel more awake. It also increases your energy levels by reducing the stress that can wear you down and exhaust you.
6. Stress relief
Feeling overwhelmed and stressed out? Take some time, sit down and do some stretching to relieve some of that stress. Stretching helps to relax your muscles while giving you something to focus on other than the stuff that has you so stressed out.
It also releases the pent up tension in your muscles that could be adding to your stress. When you stretch, you also release endorphins—a chemical in your brain that helps you to feel good and rids your body of stress.
7. Better posture
Few people know that tight muscles actually contribute to poor posture. Tight muscles pull other muscles away from their intended area and cause your alignment to shift. This leads to posture problems and, oftentimes, soreness as well. Stretching helps to lengthen these muscles and return them to their correct position.
8. Prevent injuries in the gym
There is a lot of controversy over whether or not stretching helps to prevent injuries in the gym. However, the logic behind stretching preventing injuries is fairly sound.
When you stretch your muscles, you lengthen them and increase your range of motion. This makes it possible for your body to perform exercises correctly and accurately. If you have tight muscles, your range of motion is limited, and if you push past the point that you’re physically able to, it will result in injury. So, make sure to stretch before and after exercise at the gym.
9. Better sleep
Since a lot of people tend to lose sleep due to back pain and stress, stretching is a wonderful solution. Back pain is usually associated with tight muscles, so stretching before bed can alleviate that pain as well as relax your mind and body, ensuring an awesome night’s sleep.
10. Improved mood
Endorphins, endorphins, endorphins! This little happy chemical, which is released when you exercise, is also released when you stretch. It’s a proven fact that endorphins increase your mood immensely. So, whenever you feel like you need a pick me up, spend some time stretching and you will feel better in no time.
Stretching doesn’t just make you happier by releasing endorphins though. It also increases your long-term happiness. Stretching helps you become more flexible and tones your muscles; both of these benefits can make you look and feel better. Who isn’t in a better mood when they’re more confident?
I think we can all agree that we should stop being lazy and take the time to stretch every day. Our bodies will be sure to thank us for it!