Can stretching be bad for you?
Stretching is so simple it seems like anyone can do it. But if you have any physical limitations, stretching vulnerable areas could lead to injury. As with any new exercise regimen, it’s best to speak to a primary care physician before beginning.
But if you don’t have a pre-existing condition, stretching offers many benefits.
9 Benefits of Stretching
1. Increases range of motion
Researchers have found that static and dynamic stretches can increase your range of motion, which can benefit muscle development. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretches, where you extend a muscle to its limit, may actually be the most powerful for increasing range.
2. Builds flexibility
Flexibility is linked to overall wellness. It can help you perform daily routines with ease, but it also helps delay the reduced mobility that often comes with aging.
3. Improves physical performance
Stretching before a workout prepares your muscles for movement. It’s been shown to have a positive impact on performance compared to those who don’t stretch first.
4. Increases blood flow to muscles
If you’ve ever warmed up before a fitness routine, you’ve increased the blood flow to your muscles. This can shorten recovery time for injuries and can prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
5. Improves posture
Research found that a blend of strengthening and stretching muscle groups can decrease muscle pain and build better alignment, leading to improved posture.
6. Prevents back pain and aids healing
When your muscles are tight, you may experience a limited range of motion as well as heighten your risk for straining muscles. Stretching can help prevent back pain by strengthening those muscles and reducing the risk of strain, but it can also help relieve tight muscles that cause discomfort by helping to extend them.
7. Decreases tension headaches and migraines
Tension headaches caused by stress can be devastating. Eating a healthy diet, drinking water, and getting enough sleep can help reduce them, but stretching also has been shown to decrease both the frequency and intensity of these troublesome headaches.
Migraines, the more severe form of a headache, can result when you keep your head in the same position for too long, tightening your muscles. Pressure can build up in the neck, muscles, and scalp, causing debilitating migraines. As with tension headaches, stretching can be an invaluable tool for reducing muscle pressure and easing the pain for migraine sufferers.
8. Improves digestion
Stretching has also been shown to have benefits for digestion. When you stretch, you are twisting your body and aiding the digestive process. Yoga poses, which involve stretching, can increase oxygen in the bloodstream and aid in digestion. Benefits can include reducing indigestion and gastritis as well as strengthening the digestive system. If you feel discomfort after eating, try stretching!
9. Reduces anxiety
It’s great that stretching helps with flexibility, but what if I told you it’s also linked to mental well-being? Stress can cause your muscles to tense. If you feel stressed, identify where you most experience that feeling in your body. Your neck, shoulders, and back may be the usual suspects when it comes to holding tension tight in your muscles. Stretching can help alleviate the discomfort, which can be powerful for stress relief. Focusing on deep breathing and calming the mind while stretching can contribute to reduced feelings of stress.
We hope you found this information to be helpful and informative. Keeping your muscles flexible, strong and healthy is important. By stretching regularly, you can take advantage of these nine amazing benefits. That’s quite the reward for such a simple practice!