Stretching is said to be good for your body, and you may have noticed that it makes you feel good too. But have you ever wondered why? Much research has gone into the body and how stretching and exercise can be used to make it function better. So we’ve put together 3 of the most universal and beneficial effects stretching can have on your body.
Stretching increases flexibility
Research has found that regular stretching can increase your flexibility, and increase the range of motion in your joints. This is important because when your range of motion is greater, your joints can move more readily and further. This can reduce your chance of injury (particularly during sport) and enhance your movement in everyday life.
If you don’t keep improving your flexibility and your range of motion, you can experience a greater struggle with stiffness and injury as you get older. Improved flexibility, gained over a period of time, will reduce your chances of injury as you will be able to move and recover better.
Stretching increases circulation
Tense muscles have reduced blood flow, which is why they tend to feel painful. Regular stretching will naturally reduce tension over time, therefore increasing blood flow and oxygen to the muscles which makes them feel good. When you have increased blood flow to your muscles and joints, you can also recover from injury faster. Try stretching during the day at your desk to help offset any drowsiness you may start to feel at work/study.
Stretching helps you wind down
Stretching after your workout can help you to wind down from stimulating exercise and ease any tension that may have built up. If you’re stretching without having done a workout, it can still help you by allowing you to relax and focus on taking deep breaths. It is important to take time-out during the day (even for only 10 minutes) to focus on your wellbeing, so why not incorporate stretching into your routine? Yoga is the perfect way to relax, stretch and build strength all at the same time.
Some things to remember while stretching…
-Don’t stretch before stimulating exercise without warming your muscles up first. Stretching cold muscles can lead to injury, and stretching right before a workout won't improve your performance. Remember it’s the increased flexibility from regular stretching which will help your performance.
-Don’t bounce during your stretch. Stretch in a smooth movement without bouncing, as bouncing can cause injury.
-Hold your stretch for at least 30-60 seconds to fully experience the benefits.
-Don’t aim for pain. You should feel tension when you stretch, but if you feel pain it means you’ve pushed too far. Think about how you can alter your stretch if you have injured muscles or joints.
Try regular yoga classes so you can experience the benefits of regular stretching for yourself!