Making time to stretch each morning can help improve flexibility and energize you for the day ahead. Most people feel like stretching upon waking up to relieve stiff joints and improve blood circulation. Plus, a stretching exercise or two can boost mental health by reconnecting you with your body and taking attention off the mind.
In addition to these benefits, it simply feels good to move your body after lying in bed for seven or eight hours. Some people like to stretch on breaks at work or when they get home after a long day. Practicing these exercises before and after workouts is also essential to prevent muscle strains.
No matter when you decide to do moves, they will help improve your mental and physical well-being. Below, we’ll delve deeper into the benefits of stretching and give you a few exercises to try at home.
Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Stretch Each Day
1. Improves flexibility
Performing these motions daily helps increase your flexibility because it elongates the muscles. Most experts recommend doing stretches for at least 10-30 seconds to reap the full benefits of the exercise. Having greater flexibility may not seem that important, but it helps reduce joint stiffness and mobility issues as you age. You naturally lose cartilage in your joints and bones as you get older, so it’s essential to stretch regularly.
2. Enhances range of motion
When you don’t move often, it can lead to stiff, inflexible joints and muscles. This can cause muscles to become shortened and fragile, increasing the risk of injuries like strains and fractures. However, frequent stretching can help loosen tense muscles and improve your range of motion. In fact, one study discovered that static and dynamic stretches, in particular, can help increase your range of motion.
3. Improves athletic performance
Any sports coach or health expert will stress the importance of stretching before exercising. Warming up before a game or workout session prepares the muscles for movement and relieves tension in the body. Therefore, having increased flexibility and range of motion can help enhance your athletic performance. Stretching after a sports event is also essential to reduce the risk of injury.
4. Boosts blood circulation throughout the body
When you stretch regularly, it improves blood flow and increases nutrient supply to the muscles. Consequently, the increased blood circulation enhances oxygen levels in the body, helping you feel more energized and refreshed. Finally, having better circulation can reduce your recovery time following a workout and ease sore muscles.
5. Stretching improves posture
Stiff, tight muscles can cause poor posture due to a limited range of motion and inflexibility. In turn, slouching can put extra strain on the muscles, causing them to shorten and weaken. If you’re not careful, it’s a vicious cycle that may eventually lead to injuries.
But studies show that strength training exercises and stretches can help reduce muscle pain and enhance spinal alignment. This can improve your posture over time.
6. Alleviates back pain
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints among Americans and the leading cause of global disability. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles and the prevalence of desk jobs have reduced our range of motion, leading to stiff, sore muscles. However, exercising and regular stretches can improve mobility and help ease tension in the back muscles. Improving body strength and muscle mass will enhance your physical health, reducing your risk of back injuries.
7. Making time to stretch daily relieves stress
Stress originates in the mind, so eliminating it at the source can help prevent body aches. When you feel stressed, your body naturally tenses up, preventing energy from flowing evenly. However, stretching reminds you to slow down and focus on breathing, which can help calm the mind. It also gives you a break from thinking by getting you back in touch with your body. Like yoga, stretches are mind-body exercises, promoting overall well-being and positive energy.
Three Major Stretching Techniques
There are many types of exercises, but the most common forms include the following:
- Static stretches. A static stretch involves lengthening your muscles as much as possible and holding the pose for 10-30 seconds. These help elongate the muscles by stretching muscle fibers and alleviating tension. Perform these after a workout to reduce your risk of injury.
- Dynamic stretches. While static stretches are a passive exercise, dynamic stretching involves more movement. It’s best to warm up with these exercises before a workout to increase blood circulation and improve range of motion. A few ideas for dynamic stretches include hip movement with a twist, front kicks with a hand reach, and lateral lunges. Hold each pose for two or three seconds and repeat for six to eight reps.
- Ballistic stretches. Finally, ballistic stretching involves repetitive bouncing to help stretch specific muscle groups. The exercises require extending your joints and muscles to a greater range of motion than average. These moves are usually only used for athletic drills with proper supervision, as uncontrolled movements may result in injury. Therefore, most people should stick to dynamic and static options.
Aim for five to ten minutes of muscle-lengthening techniques if you don’t stretch regularly. Try to hold each position for at least ten seconds and focus on areas where you harbor the most tension, like your back, shoulders, and neck. Going at your own pace is essential to avoid injury or overstretching your muscles. Talk with your doctor before starting a stretching routine if you have any physical limitations or injuries.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Stretching Daily
Everyone should remember the importance of engaging their joints and muscles daily. However, our increasingly sedentary lifestyles have highlighted the dire need for exercise and self-care. We can feel more energized and restore our health by taking a few moments to extend our sore, stiff muscles. Movement can also help alleviate back pain and improve blood circulation, increasing vitality. While stretches don’t substitute for cardio and weight-lifting exercises, they’re a necessary part of any workout routine. Hopefully, you’ll notice these moves’ mental and physical benefits and feel encouraged to continue the practice.