Stretching received a lot of bad impressions recently. But, the new research has created a glut of information that might be surprising. You will probably be motivated to through up your hands in the air and carry out stretching entirely. This article aims to make you aware of this beneficial exercise and how it can improve your life and help you achieve a better form.
Keep reading the article to grab the amazing facts and details about the topic!
There are some stretches that are backed by science and sports traditionalists. A few of them are as under;
Warming up is a short and comprehensive strategy for decreasing the injury and preparing the muscle for strength training.
- Dynamic stretches:
Dynamic stretches are movements by which joints and muscles go through a full range of motion.
- Active stretches:
An active stretch is where you assume a position and then hold it for up to 45 seconds.
BENEFITS OF STRETCHING
There are a variety of benefits of stretching. The most highlighting ones are discussed below;
- Increases flexibility
Stretching loads the muscle with more force and a higher level of extension, which tells the nervous system that muscles can be strong and safe at that level of extension. In this way, it increases the body’s flexibility and helps maintain a range of motion in joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become more tight.
- Increases the blood flow in muscle
When a person stretches his body, the blood vessels around the targeted muscle widen, enabling more blood flow. As a result, the heart pumps more blood, and the body receives more oxygen and blood. Research by the University of Milan in Italy showed that a 12-week stretching regimen improved blood flow, lowered blood pressure, and decreased the stiffness of arteries.
- Improves body posture
A study found that stretching muscles reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment that improves body posture. Thus, spending more time on them will be beneficial for maintaining a good body posture
- Help to heal and prevent back pain
Tight muscles decrease the body’s range of motion, which increases the likelihood of muscle strain in the back. In this situation, stretching helps a lot. It heals the existing back injury and prevents future pain.
- Decreases tension headaches
Tension and headache can affect our life very badly. In addition to a proper diet, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest, stretching can also reduce the tension caused by headaches.
- Relieves stress
Whenever we experience the situation of stress, there is a greater chance that our muscles become tense. It is due to emotional and physical stress. Stretching reduces stress by relaxing the muscles and calming the mind. It is a type of mindfulness and meditation that provides a mental break from everything.
CUMULATIVE EFFECTS OF STRETCHING
The importance of stretching cannot be denied but excess in anything is bad. Stretching improves flexibility and range of motion, but when it exceeds a limit, it causes several pains, like muscles becoming too loose, allowing the associated joint to move freely in a wider range of motion. This increases stress on the joints as they are no longer supported properly by the muscles, increasing the risk of injury. In addition, if proper symmetry is not maintained, then stretching one muscle can also impair another muscle not stretched through a central nervous system inhibitory mechanism. e.g., stretching the muscles in the left leg will cause harm in the right leg also.
To keep your stretches safe and effective, keep the following tips in mind:
- Don’t consider stretching a warm-up: An ideal pre-exercise stretching program can be a general warm-up, like a 5 minutes jog, until you feel warm in the muscles.
- Strive for symmetry: Try to maintain equal flexibility on both sides of the body. i.e., left and right.
- Focus on major muscles: Focusing on major muscles such as calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders makes stretching more beneficial and safer.
- Be gentle: Stretch in a slow, smooth movement. Avoid jerking or bouncing movements as they can cause micro-tears in the muscles. Be extra cautious if you are recovering from pain.
- Hold your stretch while breathing: Hold the static stretch for at least 30 seconds while taking a breath, as breathing can help relieve stress and tension in your body and hold a stretch for longer.
- Don’t stretch beyond what’s comfortable: You may feel slight discomfort or gentle tension while stretching, but not pain. Stop in case if you feel sharp pain.
- Keep up with your stretching: To maintain the benefits of stretching, it is important to make it a habit, as it is an ongoing commitment.
WHERE TO START:
Although our body is full of muscles, we don’t need to stretch every muscle. The areas critical to mobility are the calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps in the front of the thigh. Moreover, stretching of shoulders, neck, and areas near the lower back proves beneficial in improving body posture.
Before starting this exercise, find a physical therapist that can better assess your muscle strength and suggest a stretching program to fit your needs. If you have Parkinson’s disease or arthritis, clear it with your doctor before you start.
To make stretching more effective, if it can’t be done daily, it should be practiced at least 3-4 times per week. Results can be seen over the passage of time, but there needs to be a proper commitment to the process. Remember that it takes time for the muscles to become flexible, as it takes time for them to tighten.
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In short, stretching has a lot of benefits, such as increasing flexibility and blood flow, improving body posture, and relieving stress. We need the flexibility of muscles to maintain a range of motions in the joints, and this flexibility can be attained by stretching. And all these benefits can prevail only if proper cautionary measures are taken. Also, physical therapists need to be consulted before starting any stretching strategy for effective and safer results.
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