The Amazing Health Benefits of Stretching
As exercise is a must for healthy living, one should know that stretching is a must for exercise. Think you don’t have to time to stretch? Stretching, brings many benefits; it increases your range of motion, reduces your muscle stiffness, increases blood flow and helps prevent injury.
Stretching are even part of many rehabilitation programs. Apart for the regular stretching, you can even consider yoga mats for floor stretches and stretching straps for effective stretching. Stretching helps people of all ages. But that’s not all. Here are some of the amazing health benefits of stretching.
How to Stretch?
- To get the most out of your stretching sessions, take your time and focus. Think about the muscles you’re stretching. Give your body time to adjust and release, and focus your attention on how good it feels to improve your flexibility. Feel the muscle becoming more supple each time you stretch.
- Hold the stretch at the point where you feel the first sensation of resistance. Breathe steadily and comfortably; it gets oxygen to the muscles. And don’t overstretch – your muscles shouldn’t be shaking, straining or hurting.
- Be patient and give your body time. Your muscles need consistent stretching to gain suppleness and strength. Hold each stretch for a minimum 30 seconds – that’s longer than you think! Allow the muscle time to release and get more supple. If you overstretch or rush, your muscles will tense up and resist.
- Stretching should always feel comfortable. Use a cushion or a pile of books if you can’t reach the floor. And use padding under your knees, and a chair or wall for support. If you struggle to balance, if your breathing is laboured, or if anything is straining or hurting, you’re not getting the full benefit of the stretch.
Benefits of Stretching
It Beats Stress
There are many types of stress: there’s the ‘busy-trying-to-do-too-much’ kind of stress: the baby’s just thrown up and the toddler’s scrawled crayon all over the wall – that kind of thing. Then there’s physiological stress: your body is not functioning optimally because it’s tired, stiff or poorly nourished. Stop. Breathe. And stretch. Stretching relaxes tense, bunched, muscles and has the same circulation and endorphin boosting effects as exercise. It boosts your mood, too. Well-stretched muscles hold less tension, and hence so do you.
It Relieves Pain
Millions of women struggle with back pain. Maybe you have simply ‘learnt to live with it’. But stretching is an excellent way to release and strengthen your lower back muscles, alleviating discomfort and pain. Flexibility in your hamstrings, hip flexors and the muscles attached to the pelvis relieves stress on your lumbar spine, which reduces the risk of low-back pain.
It Makes You Stronger
Don’t mistake a tight, tense muscle for a strong one – a muscle that is too tight is as weak as one that’s too long. Muscles need to work through their full range of motion in order to function optimally and be strong – stretching achieves this. They can do more work if they have greater contractile strength.
It Tones Your Bottom
Many of us sit down too much: in the car, at a desk, on the sofa. And it’s really bad for your posture, your back and your backside. When you’re sitting, the nerves that activate your glutes are inactive and eventually start to atrophy, which means they get weaker and lose shape. You can activate your glutes, by walking in correct alignment, squatting and moving. Getting up, moving around and stretching your glutes and hip flexors will get those muscles firing again. Stretching these tight muscles can reduce future injury and pain – and get you a perkier bum.
You’ll Look Slimmer
Many of the big muscles of your core and pelvis, including your quads, hamstrings and hip flexors, are key to your posture. Using these muscles in an unbalanced way, such as regularly carrying a backpack, causes them to tense and tighten. Stretch out your muscles to rebalance and restore your posture to its natural place. Improve your posture and you’ll feel more energized – and look instantly slimmer.
It Feels Good!
It really does. Just do it. Take 10 minutes (you’ve got 10 minutes, really you have!) and go through the stretches on the following pages for 10 minutes instead of sitting down for 10 minutes. You’ll feel awesome and wonder why you didn’t do it before.