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Stretching is an extremely important practice to add to your daily routine to be on your way to better health.
You may think of stretching as something performed only by runners or gymnasts. But we all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence. Even if you are not planning on exercising vigorously, it is still important to stretch in order to receive multiple benefits for your body and your mind. Just a few minutes of stretching increases blood flow through your entire body, including your brain, it wakes you up and helps you feel less sluggish.
The main benefits of Stretching:
- Increases your flexibility, which is crucial for your overall health. Not only can improved flexibility help you to perform everyday activities with relative ease, but it can also help delay the reduced mobility that can come with aging.
- Increases your range of motion. Being able to move a joint through its full range of motion gives you more freedom of movement. Stretching on a regular basis can help increase your range of motion.
- Improves your performance in physical activities. Performing dynamic stretches prior to physical activities has been shown to help prepare your muscles for the activity.
- Increases blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness.
- Improves your posture. Combination of strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment. That, in turn, may help improve your posture.
- Helps to heal and prevent back pain. When the tight muscles lead to decrease in your range of motion, you increase the likelihood of straining the muscles in your back. Stretching can help heal an existing back injury by stretching the muscles.
- Is great for stress relief. When you’re experiencing stress, there’s a good chance your muscles are tense – that’s because your muscles tend to tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Focus on areas of your body where you tend to hold your stress, such as your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
- Can calm your mind. Tension and stress headaches can interfere with your daily life. In addition to a proper diet, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest, stretching may help reduce the tension you feel from headaches.
Stretching should be a regular part of your pre- and post-workout routine. Flexibility training is something most people put in the backseat when it comes to fitness, but the reality is stretching allows you to have a better range of motion and mobility. And, better range of motion means you can lunge lower and jump higher, which translates to more effective workouts. Dynamic stretching is recommended before a workout to increase body temperature and increase joint flexibility while static stretches is better at the end of a workout for a cool-down.
– Stretching should never be forced, you should be able to relax into a stretch. If you’re in pain, you’re doing it wrong.
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