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Fitness

The Most Significant Benefits of Stretching

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

After a run or workout, most individuals don't bother to stretch. However, constantly stretching is a must for any fitness routine. Set out at least 10 to 15 minutes for stretching after your training, even if it is just a short one. Stretching after exercise is essential because it decreases the likelihood of injury and maximizes the effectiveness of the activity. But these aren't the only significant benefits of stretching. Here are some you might not think about.

A woman reaping the significant benefits of stretching.

Stretching can improve your posture


Muscle tension is a common contributor to slouching. In particular, tight chest, upper back, and hip muscles can contribute to slouching. Many of us devote at least some of our waking hours to staring at a screen, whether it be a computer, smartphone, or tablet. The rounded shoulders and forward head position that characterize these actions are examples of bad posture. This also happens when the core isn't strong. We can improve this by stretching several muscular groups, including the pectorals, upper trapezius, and hamstrings.


Increased joint mobility is one of the significant benefits of stretching


No matter your age or level of activity, maintaining healthy joints and tissues requires a degree of flexibility. Tight, overworked muscles are more likely to suffer sprains. And your ligaments and tendons might be at risk if the tissues around a joint are stiff.


Dynamic stretching improves knee range of motion, hamstring flexibility, and stiffness. And those whose flexibility was enhanced by dynamic stretching had their flexibility for up to 90 minutes after the stretching session ended. So the significant benefits of stretching are long-lasting!

A woman doing yoga.
Increased flexibility is among the most significant benefits of stretching!

It helps with inflammation

Exercising your flexibility might help you fight inflammation. The body reacts to postural and repeated stresses that limit or aggravate its range of motion as if they were actual injuries. Therefore, the body will make an effort to repair the damage.


Aside from this, stretching can help you overcome pain after an injury. When the body suffers an injury, inflammation sets in, and the body's natural defense mechanism—increased muscular tension—kicks in to stop any additional damage. The typical range of motion or pliability of your muscle is further reduced because of the rise in muscular tension, which in turn causes muscle adhesions, often known as "knots".


Improved mental health is among the significant benefits of stretching

Many people have found relief from stress and anxiety through stretching. People who stretch for 10 minutes after work report lower anxiety and greater energy levels. As a bonus, they feel less emotional and physical distress.


Stretching helps by putting you in a situation where you aren't always on the move. Pausing to relax and reflect on the state of your muscles and how they move helps ease the mind.

Scrabble letters spelling out the words mental health.
Your mental health can be improved by stretching regularly!
It improves fitness performance

The capacity to move a joint over its complete range of motion can increase with consistent stretching, perhaps leading to improved ease and effectiveness in physical activity. And this can be useful in everyday life! For example, if you're trying to prevent injury when moving bulky items around the house, you should get warmed up first by doing some stretches!


Contrasted with dynamic stretching, which includes gradually expanding the range of motion with each stretch, static stretching involves extending a muscle and then retaining the stretch. Static and dynamic stretching has been shown to increase flexibility, which can improve performance by reducing muscle stiffness and enhancing muscular strength.


Stretching gets your body ready for action


Stretching is a terrific technique to get the body ready for activity, and it may help avoid injuries, especially if you're going to be putting it through a lot of stress. Dynamic stretching promotes blood flow to the muscles and is an excellent technique to prepare the body for a more strenuous activity like running or cycling. When we stretch, we extend the joint's range of motion, allowing the muscle to contract more powerfully. Particular muscles, like the hip flexors, can get overworked and stiff from repeated usage in activities like running and cycling. You can correct this muscular imbalance with static stretching performed after exercise.


How to stretch


There should be no discomfort when stretching. Instead, stretch to the point of mild pain. Stop if you're in any bigger pain, especially if the region is already injured.

When warming up for an athletic event, it's best to perform dynamic stretches targeting the specific muscles and joints that will be used. Some suggestions for the upper body include doing arm circles. Lower body exercises might consist of things like lunges and leg swings. You should perform each stretch many times on each side.


When is it best to stretch?


Stretching is something you can do whenever you have a moment. However, since our muscles are tighter first thing in the morning, it's best to warm up with a moderate jog or dynamic motions before diving into static stretching. Additionally, it would be best if you always stretched after exercise, as it is one of the best ways to relieve sore muscles. Even nighttime stretching before bed might help you get better rest. Light stretching in the late evening or just before bed has been demonstrated to assist patients with minor sleep disturbances to get better sleep.


How to stay safe during stretching

Never force yourself to perform above your capabilities.
While some muscle tension is expected when stretching, the discomfort of any kind is never acceptable. If you experience pain during stretching, ease up until you can continue without pain.

Stop short of becoming crazy with it.

Stretching produces strain on the body, similar to other exercise types. You can injure yourself by overstretching the same muscles if you stretch them several times daily.

Do not stretch without warming up.

Because they are less elastic, cold muscles are far more challenging to stretch. Even while stretching should ideally be done after exercise, you should still warm up for 5–10 minutes with some mild cardiac activity before starting serious stretching.

A woman stretching.
Don’t go overboard when stretching.

In conclusion


Whether you're a professional athlete or just starting an exercise regimen, stretching is crucial. Stretching has many significant benefits, including enhanced fitness and performance.


Before beginning a flexibility or stretching program, it's a good idea to see a professional personal trainer to receive advice on what will work best for you. You can also check out with them some additional benefits of stretching. Good luck!

 
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