Stretch Your Way to Better Health

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Stretching is widely viewed as a part of fitness and fitness routines- pilates and yoga both combine stretching with strength training in a utilitarian way.  And while people will debate whether or not stretching prevents injury,  there is no doubt that stretching is good for health in many different ways:

 

  • Eases Stress:  Stress causes your muscles to contract, becoming tense. This muscle tension has negative effects on almost every part of your body. When this happens, it is important to stretch to relax the muscle and cause the release of endorphins, which not only boost your mood but also aid in stress elimination.
  • Increased Range of Motion:  Stretching regularly increases flexibility and range of motion in your joints, which promotes increased balance and motion throughout an entire lifetime.
  • Flexibility:  The 4 main measures of overall fitness are: aerobic, muscular, body composition and flexibility.  The way to increase flexibility is stretching- which becomes increasingly important as you age because your muscles become shorter and tighter.  Short and tight muscles cause restriction that make you more susceptible to tendon, muscle, and joint injuries.
  • Increase Blood Circulation:  Stretching increases blood flow to muscles, which bring an oxygenated supply of nutrients to muscles and cartilage.  This means, stretching reduces muscle soreness and accelerates muscle repair.
  • Eases Lower Back Pain: There are so many muscles that play a role in posture (quadriceps, hamstrings, lower back muscles and hip flexors), that stretching these muscles can greatly reduce or even eliminate the lower back pain that so many of us suffer from.

Tips for Stretching:

  • Ease in and hold for 10-15 seconds/ 30 seconds if you’re over 50
  • Breathe out as you go further into the stretch
  • Listen to your body, you should not be feeling sharp pain
  • Don’t bounce in your stretch, hold it- bouncing can lead to little muscle tears
  • Repeat- it is beneficial to do the same stretch 2 to 3 times
  • Don’t compare yourself to others and work at your own pace.  You will get more flexible with consistency and time.

 

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