Stretching is a form of art. It perfectly captures the saying ‘motion is lotion for the joints’ because the more you stretch, the more your joints receive the natural lubricants they need to kick your body into high gear.
The act of stretching can be as simple as standing upright and extending your arms in an upward gesture or even as advanced as touching your toes while bouncing to increase the range. Either way, stretching comes with it a plethora of other benefits. Keep on reading to find out more!
1. Improves Blood Circulation
During sleep, your brain muscles, much like your body, are on hiatus. For it to properly function throughout the day, your blood needs to flow easily from your lower body back to your brain, and stretching will do that. That is why you see most athletes stretch prior to, during, and even after their match.
Morning stretching promotes better health by delivering oxygen throughout the body and assisting in waste elimination. When your circulation is poor, your legs will become tired and heavy. In addition, the tip of your fingers and toes will be cold, and worse; your skin will remain dull. So, the next time you skip it, think again.
2. Increases Flexibility
To get the most out of your day, your muscles must be able to move through their entire range of motion so that the fibres are fully engaged. Believe it or not, you are constantly straining your muscles, either if you spend your entire day on a working desk or are constantly on the move.
So, stretching in the wee hours of the morning after a long night’s rest will reverse muscle wear and tear, improving overall mobility and flexibility. The downward-facing-dog motion is one best pose you need to incorporate into your morning stretches. You will be moving your entire body to form an inverted letter V shape, further increasing your flexibility.
3. Reduce Stress
Everyone experiences mental stress to some extent, and some more than others. Stress can cause your muscles to tighten, resulting in discomfort and, ultimately, pain. Meanwhile, stretching has been proven to increase serotonin levels, aiding in the relief of muscle tension, thereby stabilising our mood and reducing depression and anxiety.
Here is a quick tip to get you started: begin by stretching three times a week to allow your body to adapt. Then gradually increase the number as the week progresses. So, the next time you ever find yourself sulking over the most minor things, you know what to do. Get your feet on the mat and stretch your stress away!
4. Better Sports and Fitness Performance
Stretching before a sport or exercise may actually help enhance rather than hinder performance. So, whether you are just beginning your fitness journey, getting back into an old rhythm, or hitting the field – quick stretching is critical to your performance and healing. By the end, you should notice your heart rate increasing and your body warming up.
A warm-up stretch prepares your body by increasing your muscles’ blood flow, lubricating the joints, improving flexibility, and preparing the nervous system to move better. The dynamic stretch usually takes only 10 minutes and can be gradually increased to 15 minutes, depending on how long you want your stretch to be.
5. Keeps You Energized
Stretching, contrary to popular belief, is not just for athletes. Many great experts believe that those who do not engage in physical activities are in dire need of it more than others. Did you know that the movement that comes with stretching stimulates your brain and allows you to feel a surge of energy without having to consume coffee?
If you do not, well, now you do! A few good stretches coupled with some deep breathing techniques can provide you with the energy boost you need to start your day. If you feel drowsy at work, take a quick “stretch break” to shake it all off.
6. Improved Cholesterol
If your cholesterol levels are not where they should be, stretching should be a key component of your get-healthy plan. A 5-min stretch in the morning can help reduce cholesterol in your body if combined with a heart-healthy diet. Both should come together hand-in-hand.
This will not only free you from heart disease but also other diseases that come along with having a high cholesterol level. Keep in mind that if you are new to stretching or are recently returning to it after a long break, you might need to start slowly and work your way back up. Else, it would do more damage than good.
7. Prevents Back Pain
Adults are more likely to experience back pain at some point. Back pain is more likely to occur as you age, either due to certain medical conditions, poor body posture, or other age-related conditions. If you struggle to bend over and take your Android phone off of the table, then you might want to do a quick stretch in the morning.
Basic back stretches are simple enough to do regularly throughout the day, whether at home or work. Simply stand facing a room corner and place your forearms on each wall with the elbows around shoulder height. Then lean forward until a stretch is felt under the collarbone. There you have it! Quick and easy.
8. Improves Posture
If your day-to-day activity includes hunching over a desk for 8 consecutive hours, it should be no surprise if your natural posture has become increasingly curved or bendy. And if hearing the word “slouching” conjures up memories of your family telling you to “sit upright!” Then it is about time you start stretching for the sky.
Poor posture has far-reaching consequences that go beyond the physical structure of your body. It impacts everything from how your bodies produce hormones to what your body will be like as you age. You may not notice the harm your posture is causing, but your bodies do.
It is evident by now that regular stretching exercises are more impactful than what society deemed them to be. The good news is that you do not have to be an iron man triathlete to get your blood pumping. All you need is a good exercise mat; some soothing music, and you are good to go!