Stretching is the act of moving parts or entire body muscles to increase their length. It is usually done either to provide relief from discomfort, as part of a warm up routine or following exercise. Stretching can also be done by incorporating various exercises that use many major muscle groups in the body.
1) Improves Posture: The actual act of stretching has been shown to improve posture and balance, due to increased strength and range of motion. This increased bone density (after intense stretching) can then lead to an improved end result when you view your posture in a mirror!
2) Decreases Risk Of Injury: One of the leading causes for post-surgical complications are due to poor flexibility, which leads to muscle imbalances and a greater risk of injury. This is again easily preventable through the incorporation of stretching into your daily workout routine or simply as part of a cool down session at the end of your workout.
3) Regulates Body Temperature: Stretching has also been shown to assist in regulating body temperature, which can lead to improved performance in any given endeavor. When you are physically active (i.e. during exercise or sports), your body has an increased need for oxygen and the subsequent release of lactic acid. This can lead to an increase in temperature throughout your body, which is why warming up before physical activity is recommended until you have acclimatized to exercising.
4) Increase Range Of Motion: Over time, stretching can increase the range of motion for any given joint in our body. This is done by helping to release musculature surrounding certain joints (i.e. knees or shoulders), which helps prevent any restrictions that may occur due to lack of mobility and tightness of muscles.
5) Aids In Recovery: Stretching regularly can assist in the recovery process and speed up your rate at which you regain strength following any injury. Which is why, following a workout you may want to incorporate some light stretching into your routine, as it aids with blood flow that will help carry away the byproducts of exercise (i.e. lactic acid) and aid in delivering nutrients to your muscles.
6) Reduces Inflammation: Stretching regularly can help reduce the amount of inflammation that your body may be experiencing, which is particularly beneficial if you suffer from any inflammatory diseases or illnesses.
7) Improves Focus And Mental Clarity: One of the main reasons that stretching is incorporated into warm up routines or before exercise, is because it will help improve your ability to concentrate and makes any physical activity more effective (e.g. improved distance or speed).
8) Reduces Stress: Stretching can also be used as a relaxation tool and has been found to significantly reduce stress levels in those that practice it regularly.
9) Burns Calories: One of the lesser known benefits of stretching, is that it can help you burn calories. Since a more active form of stretching (i.e. yoga) incorporates the use of your own body weight as resistance or weight bearing exercises, this will have an indirect effect on your metabolic rate while burning extra calories.
10) Reduces Inflammation: There are many benefits to incorporating stretching, but this is one of the most common benefits that people experience when they first start out. Since stretching can reduce inflammation in muscles and joints (as mentioned above), it can quickly provide relief from temporary aches and pains caused by muscle tightness or joint injury that can occur due to everyday life.
11) Improves Circulation: In order for oxygenated blood to reach your extremities (i.e. fingers and toes), it must be pumped through the heart which can become more difficult as you age or if you have reduced flexibility in some areas of your body. This is why regular stretching can help improve your circulation and increase blood flow to these areas.
With all of the benefits listed above, stretching should be an essential part of any daily exercise regimen or workout routine.
By incorporating regular bouts of stretching into your life, you can help prevent injuries that are caused by muscle tightness, improve flexibility and range of movement in your joints, relax and reduce stress levels, burn calories and even improve your circulation which can make it easier for blood to reach extremities.
These benefits will help you live a more enriched life that is not only healthy from the inside out, but also adds value to everything that you do!
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