Top Benefits of Stretching – What They Are and The Importance of Stretching Everyday
Many people understand the importance of stretching before or after exercise, but the benefits of stretching every day are often underestimated. In fact, stretching regularly is one of the best ways to keep your body (and mind!) healthy. Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should stretch at least seven times a week!
Joint & Muscle Flexibility
One of the top benefits of stretching every day is that it keeps your joints and muscles strong, healthy, and, most importantly, flexible. Flexibility is critical to many parts of your life. Whether you have a physically active job, regularly participate in sports, or simply perform everyday activities with your kids, improved flexibility can help decrease your risk of injury and promote recovery.
It’s essential to regularly work on your flexibility to maintain a wide range of motion in your joints because, without it, your muscles will shorten and tighten up. Since stretching increases your range of motion, if you skip stretching, when you go to use those muscles later on, they will be weaker and won’t extend all the way. As a result, you’ll feel sore and struggle to recover effectively after physical activity. By including stretching into your evening ritual or exercise routine, you’ll enjoy a full range of motion and experience a faster recovery.
We mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: daily stretching is not just essential for athletes but for everyone. For example, many people with desk jobs are prone to overly tight hip flexors and neck extensors. These tightened muscles can put unwarranted stress on the lower back and neck, causing pain later on. By engaging in purposeful and regular stretching, this pain will decrease or even completely vanish. If you feel pain from sitting at the computer, give regular stretching a try, and you’d be amazed at how different you can feel. (See also: “How often should I go to the chiropractor?”)
You might be surprised that the best fitness coaches warn against jumping straight into an intense cardio session, deadlift routine, or spinning class — that is, if you intend on doing so without stretching first! Taking time for a few stretching exercises helps prepare your body and gets your heart pumping, and it also provides mental clarity and focus before a workout. This can help develop healthy workout habits and standardize your exercise routine in a positive way.
Stretching can help improve circulation by increasing blood flow to the muscles and promoting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the body’s tissues. When you stretch, you increase the amount of space between your muscle fibers, allowing for increased blood flow and oxygen delivery. This increased circulation helps to remove waste products from the muscles, such as lactic acid, which can build up during exercise and cause soreness and fatigue. Additionally, stretching can help reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation, which can help lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.
Types of Stretching
Stretching doesn’t always look or feel the same. A few popular types of stretches include:
Static stretching involves holding a stretch for a stationary position for a set period of time, typically between 10 to 30 seconds. During static stretching, you lengthen a muscle to the point of mild discomfort and hold the position for the designated amount of time. Static stretching is effective for improving overall flexibility and can help improve performance in activities that require a greater range of motion, such as gymnastics, dance, or martial arts. However, it is important to perform static stretching safely, as overstretching or holding a stretch for too long can cause injury. Experts recommend holding each stretch for no more than 30 seconds and avoiding bouncing or jerking movements while stretching.
Ballistic stretching utilizes momentum and bouncing movements to increase your range of motion. This type of stretching can be performed by rapidly bouncing or swinging the limbs (picture leg swings or arm circles). However, ballistic stretching can also be risky as it can cause injury or muscle soreness if not performed correctly. It’s important to understand what your body is capable of and check your form so that you don’t cause yourself harm.
Dynamic stretching is done through continuous movement, typically for shorter periods of time (around 10 to 15 repetitions). During dynamic stretching, you actively move your muscles and joints through a series of actions, such as lunges and high knees. Dynamic stretching makes a great warm-up before physical activity because it can help improve balance, coordination, and agility.
It’s important to note that while dynamic stretching is generally considered safe, it’s important to perform each movement with proper form and control, avoiding any jerking or abrupt movements that could cause injury. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions or injuries may need to modify or avoid certain types of stretching altogether and should consult with professionals before starting a new routine.
How to Fit Stretching Into Your Daily Routine
It can seem hard to find time in your busy day to perform stretches, so a great way to combat this is to make time while you’re doing other daily activities. There are many different types of stretching, so the sky’s the limit when it comes to your options!
Some examples could be…
- Take a warm shower and do some hamstring and quad stretches.
- While waiting for your coffee to brew, slowly pull your head down to your chest to stretch your neck extensors (these are the muscles that cause that annoying pain at the base of the neck).
- Try some yoga stretches while watching TV in the evening.
- Get your kids involved! Make stretching together a fun family activity.
- Take regular stretch breaks at work. Using a timer on your phone or computer can help you remember.
- If you are doing yard work, moving heavy furniture, or completing other strenuous activities around the house, take some time to stretch before, during, and after your work.
Don’t limit yourself to one or two types of stretching. Instead, research stretches involving all major muscle groups in your body so that you can experience maximum benefit!
Contact Thrive Spine & Sports Rehab Today
Stretching each and every day is one of the best ways to keep your body healthy. From increasing your range of motion to providing much-needed stress relief, you can never go wrong with a good stretch break!
Do you need help with stretching? Are you dealing with pain that just won’t seem to go away no matter what you try? Do you have other questions like “Is cupping dangerous?” or “How does acupuncture work?” Give us a call at Thrive Spine and Sports Rehab to set up an appointment to discuss with one of our great rehab specialists. We offer chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, and much more. Let us help you reach your goals like never before!