7 Reasons Why Stretching Is More Important Than You Think!
Many of us learn about stretching at a young age, but not necessarily why it’s so crucial for maintaining a healthy happy body as we grow and age. Contrary to popular belief, stretching is definitely not just for athletes to do before hitting the gym or taking the field, it’s important for everyone! To experience the most benefits from stretching experts agree that you should really try and do it on a daily basis, but don’t worry, the sessions don’t have to be long at all! Stretch routines only have to be around 5-10 minutes to significantly boost your health and wellbeing. Or, hop on a yoga mat like one of our cork Ahimsa Collection, and dive into a longer stretching experience. The extra-grippy surface of the cork provides even more support while you move and twist your body.
Stretching helps loosen and warm up your muscles before and after workouts and helps in avoiding injuries. Many physical therapists will include different forms of stretching in treatment plans, to help strengthen and support muscles and joints after, injuries as well. But the benefits of stretching don’t stop there!
1.) Decreased Stress
Our society is plagued by chronic stress, an unfortunate side-effect of the modern lifestyle that the vast majority of us live. Stress can have a huge variety of effects on our bodies and minds, but, luckily, stretching regularly can mitigate a number of these problems. We know that tension from stress is carried in different places throughout the body, and while this can be different from person to person, the most common places for it to show up are the neck, back, and shoulders, which is part of what contributes to “tension headaches.” By stretching, we can relieve not only this physical tension, but also mental tension. Furthermore, by combining stretches with breathing techniques, it can also have an impact on anxiety and depression.
2.) Reduced Pain And Stiffness
Pain and stiffness can be something of a self-feeding monster: it hurts, so you don’t want to move it, which makes it stiff and therefore it hurts more. However, by actually moving our problem areas, we can decrease tension and increase blood flow (and therefore oxygen) to these body parts, easing pain and promoting healing. This also contributes to the reduction of muscle cramping, both in frequency and severity.
3.) Enhanced Range Of Motion
As the old adage goes, use it or lose it, and this goes double for range of motion. Put simply, if you aren’t moving a joint, you begin to lose mobility in it, until they can eventually freeze up completely. There can be a variety of reasons as to why you might not be moving a joint, but in most cases, you will do yourself more good long-term by stretching out those areas. Some joints are designed to be particularly mobile, such as your hips and shoulders, and it’s especially important to keep them that way. For example, if you spend too much time not moving, pretty soon you’ll barely be able to shuffle along, let alone be able to climb stairs, simply because you’ll barely be able to move your legs. So don’t skip out on the stretching!
4.) May Reduce Risk Of Injury
We’ve all been told that we need to stretch before we exercise so that we don’t get injured, but many of us have always ignored this advice. While this might not be the most important thing when we are young and basically made of rubber, as we get older, our risk of injury increases dramatically. By stretching, we are warming up the muscles in advance, which decreases the likelihood of suffering injuries commonly associated with sports, such as sprains, twists, and strains.
5.) Improved Blood Flow And Circulation
Everything in your body can benefit from increased blood flow. Increased blood flow means more oxygen, which means more energy. Not only does improved circulation increase muscle performance, but it also increases their ability to heal. By stretching, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to recover, as well as improving your post-workout soreness. As it happens, stretching can also help to regulate your blood pressure, since your heart isn’t working as hard to push blood out to your extremities.
6.) Better Long-Term Muscle and Joint Health
Much like how a rubber band in good condition is unlikely to snap, a muscle that is flexible is less likely to tear. Any activity that’s prone to sudden movements can more easily result in injury if your body is not properly prepared and maintained. Muscles that are kept strong and lengthened by stretching can also help to protect joints, whereas injured muscles can result in joint injury because they are not strong enough to support them.
7.) Enables Flexibility
Improved flexibility and range of motion are probably the most obvious benefits of stretching. As we have probably already established, a proper stretching routine can greatly help to mitigate risk of injury by improving your range of motion as well as your flexibility. This will also result in the body needing less energy to make the same movements, and the more flexible joints will also help to guard against injury. Everything is connected!
Sure, when most people think of physical health and fitness they think of things like cardio and strength training, but for optimal wellbeing stretching should always be considered as well! As we’ve learned, stretching is not only critical to athletic performance, but to overall health, especially as we age and our mobility and stamina concerns change! For a little extra help with your stretching routine, be sure to check out our Nama yoga strap. This handy little tool made from organic cotton and all natural dyes will enhance and support your practice by allowing you to open up like never before.