As one gets older, it’s hard not to notice that the body doesn’t bounce back as well as it used to. A couple of hours sleeping in an odd position can result in days of neck soreness. The morning after an intense weight workout, the back, arms, and upper body can be incredibly tight. Even a sudden movement can make slow-to-respond muscles seem rusty. If you’ve been experiencing a creaky feeling in the body and joints, stretching may be the answer.
When pressed for time, most people opt out of the stretches at the end of class—especially when a cardio, ab, and glute workout seems so much more important than five minutes of lengthening the muscles. However, stretching is a healthy habit that does wonders for the mind, body, and soul. Below are eight of the benefits of stretching and reason enough to make extending those muscles a priority.
Benefits of Stretching
It increases balance. According to a 2012 study performed by the Department of Kinesiology at Louisiana State University, those who stretch have an improved sense of balance. Stretchers can better control the fine muscle contractions that are necessary to stop oneself from tripping and falling.
You’ll become more flexible. While being flexible may seem like a useless skill, it will make your workouts more intense. For example, if your hip flexers are stretched out, you’ll be able to squat deeper, and therefore get a better workout.
You’re less likely to get an injury. Stretching out the muscles and warming up can help your brain switch gears into workout mode. It helps you get in the mindset of exercise, and you’ll be less to make a misstep and injure yourself. Plus, stretching reduces soreness and helps speed recovery by supplying a greater amount of nutrients to the muscles.
It reduces stress. Stretching is beneficial to those who don’t work out in that it alleviates stress-related aches and pains. If your back is knots or your shoulders are so tense they touch your ears, try taking some deep breaths while stretching. It should relieve muscle tension and let you feel more relaxed.
It ensures better posture. Keeping the muscles loose and long, especially along the lower back, chest, and shoulders, keeps the spine in better alignment. When the back is free of tension, there is a reduced desire to slouch.
It increases stamina. Stretching forces the tendons and muscles to loosen, which relieves muscle fatigue and in turn, increases blood flow. Less muscle fatigue means you’ll be able to work out longer and have stronger endurance.
It improves energy levels. The next time you feel sluggish and tired in the afternoon, instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, stand up and stretch your body out. The stretching will make your mind more alert and quickly revitalize your energy levels.
It decreases soreness. When you’re sore, the best thing you can do is stretch. This movement, breathing into a static hold, increases blood flow and nutrient supply—two things that naturally relieves soreness.
Do you stretch? Why is it important to you?