How Stretching Can Improve Your Overall HealthApril 28, 2021
Does stretching mean an upcoming workout or some other intense physical activity to you? Do you ever feel the need to stretch your muscles only if these factors come into play? Well, here’s the thing: there’s more to stretching than exercise! As individuals who use (and sometimes abuse) our bodies, stretching also has a great impact on everyday function and health.
When we stretch, we keep our muscles strong, flexible, and healthy. The flexibility part is vital: it allows us to maintain a range of movement in our joints, which is why stretching becomes even more important as we age. Without a good old stretch, our muscles tend to tighten and shorten, so when we need them for physical activity? We’ll find it difficult to use our muscles since they’re not only weak, they’re also unable to extend all the way.
Proper stretching can also lead to better posture. In a study, researchers found that stretching (and strengthening) certain groups of muscles can help reduce musculoskeletal pain, which encourages proper alignment and can impact posture in a positive way.
And did we mention that it’s also great for stress relief? This is because when we’re stressed out, this usually means our muscles are tense – the body’s response to stress of all kinds – but stretching can help ease tension from parts of the body, helping it relax and, in turn, lessening the stress we feel. By extension, it can also help with stress and tension headaches.
But how do you go about stretching, and where should you start? We can begin with the basics: static stretches and dynamic stretches. What’s the difference?
Dynamic stretches are best to prepare the muscles and body for action and movement. They’re more active and don’t require us to hold a certain position for long, but instead mimics the movements of an upcoming activity. It’s also called an active warm-up, which can include any of the following: bodyweight lunges, skipping, jogging, trunk rotations, shoulder circles and agility drills.
Static stretches, on the other hand, is what we’re more familiar with: it’s all about holding a stretch for up to 30 seconds (minimum of 10) to gradually lengthen the muscle and release tension. This helps reduce the risk of a tear, strain, or sprain, and assists in improved blood flow to the muscles.
If you’re like the rest of us who’s bound to a desk living a stagnant lifestyle, incorporating a little stretching into your light workout routine can help make improvements to the quality of your life. Find a stretching routine that works for you – it’s never too late to add more things to do with our bodies in order to positively impact health!
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