Why Daily Stretching Is Essential
We are often told to stretch, but do we know why? Stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong, and healthy for optimal mobility. Modern-day living has placed an excessive strain on our body’s ability to remain physically fit and active. Numerous studies have linked a sedentary lifestyle to decreased mobilization, depletion of energy, a weakened immune system, and increased susceptibility to developing certain types of disease. This makes it even more essential to carve out time daily for movement and stretching. The act of stretching also serves as a way to promote an increase in blood flow, boost oxygen levels, help deliver nutrients to muscles and assist in the removal of metabolic waste. How’s that for some added perks?!
4 Benefits When Stretching Regularly
Need more convincing for adopting a daily stretch regimen? Look no further. Here are four of the top benefits.
We all need a certain amount of flexibility training to preserve and protect our mobility and independence. Flexibility provides freedom of movement when performing everyday tasks or athletic activities. As we age simple movement patterns, such as lifting groceries or bending over to tie a shoe, can become increasingly more difficult. Keeping the body flexible provides ease when performing movement patterns seen in everyday life. By engaging in a regular stretch program we can lessen the chance of these movements becoming seemingly more challenging. A routine stretch practice can inevitably support improvement to our body’s balance and global performance during physical activity - whether that be during sports or everyday tasks.
2. Injury Prevention
Engaging in flexibility training can help reduce the risk of developing muscle imbalances. When a muscle imbalance presents, the body adapts by creating compensatory movement patterns - taking the path of least resistance! An inefficient movement strategy will produce improper form and poor posture. This increases the likelihood of wear and tear on the body and deepens the chance of injury. Injury to a muscle will induce inflammation, the body’s natural protective mechanism. The body produces muscle tension to prevent further damage. Since muscles are made of fibers that can be stretched and flexed, regular stretching of these fibers will encourage greater elasticity of muscle. This then lowers the risk of injury decreases inflammation, aids faster recovery, and promotes a healthier longevity of the body.
3. Improves Strength
One of the many goals of flexibility training is to help develop better control of muscles during full range of motion activity. Muscles and joints require an optimal range of motion in order to remain healthy and function efficiently. Without a conscious effort to preserve ideal mobilization, muscles shorten and tighten which can cause weakness. This weakness inhibits performance, while also placing the body at a higher probability of developing pain, injury, strain, or damage. Flexibility can be especially important for athletes who need to move their joints through a wide range of motion in order to reach peak performance. Muscle stiffness (or soreness) may exhibit unwanted tension, making it difficult to properly activate when asked to perform power or explosive movements. With routine stretch and flexibility training, an individual can elevate muscle control that supports heightened strength and performance.
There are several types of stretching: self-myofascial release (SMR), static stretching, active stretching, and dynamic stretching. Each technique can offer purpose in developing a customized flexibility program specific to the goals of the enrollee. Every style of stretching incorporates breath to encourage relaxation. Breath work goes hand in hand with calming the nervous system, offering relief to the body - both physically and mentally.
If you are on a wellness journey to improve your overall health and fitness, do not neglect the power of incorporating stretch and flexibility training into your daily regime. Stretching should be considered an important pillar of physical wellness. Daily inclusion of a stretch and flexibility program offers varied health benefits, improves physical performance, and enhances your overall quality of life. It is never a bad idea to consult with a certified fitness professional on how best to integrate stretching into your daily lifestyle. This professional can help develop a personalized program that appropriately aligns with your health and wellness goals.
Lynne Alberding holds an MS in Kinesiology and over 20 years of experience as a fitness professional - specifically as a certified Comprehensive Pilates Instructor, Thai Bodywork Practitioner, and NASMTM Stretch Therapy Couch. She provides personalized Pilates and Strength Training programming for individuals in pursuit of their physical wellness. Lynne’s professionalism stems from her purpose to better educate and empower her clients through educated, goal-oriented, and mindful practice - while being an active participant in helping individuals navigate their wellness journey.