Most of us stretch our bodies at various times during the day – when we wake up in the morning, have been sitting in the same position for a while, before we head out for a run – but did you know that stretching can, and should, do much more than that? That it has the ability to help our body function more optimally? Let’s start with what happens to our bodies when we don’t stretch.
As we age the muscles in our body naturally begin to tighten. This tightening causes problems with the range of motion in our joints. This limitation can hamper our life because normal routines become more difficult to accomplish, remaining active becomes more difficult, and our susceptibility to injury increases. Stretching can reverse this situation and keep our muscles loose and limber. Here are some of the benefits to incorporating stretching into our daily lives:
- Reduced muscle tension.
- Increased flexibility and range of motion in the joints.
- Enhanced muscular coordination.
- Increased blood circulation.
- Increased energy levels.
- Helps ensure correct posture.
- Reduces muscle soreness.
- Helps speed recovery from muscle and joint injuries.
- Reduced stress.
Committing time every day to stretching the muscles in your body that give you the mobility you love is essential. The good news is that the time commitment is small. 10-15 minutes is all it takes to give your muscles what they need. But where do you begin?
- Stretching should be done when your muscles are warm. Begin by doing some low-impact cardio like walking, jogging, or biking for a few minutes to get the blood pumping.
- You don’t need to stretch the entire body to see and feel the benefits. Start with the areas that feel the most tight. Focus your stretching efforts there first and gradually add other areas to your routine.
- Try to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and up to 60 seconds depending on how tight the muscle feels.
- Don’t bounce as you stretch as it may cause small tearing in your muscles.
- Stretching should not cause pain. If you feel pain you have pushed it too far.
- Breathe deeply while stretching.
- Be sure to stretch BOTH sides of your body.
- It’s always best to stretch both before and after your physical activity to keep the muscles healthy.
Stretching is one of the best ways you can take care of the body you have. Don’t let another day slip by without making stretching a priority in your daily routine.