Have you recently started exercising regularly for the first time in your life? Perhaps, you’ve been going to the gym every week for years. Regardless of your current fitness level, you have probably heard about the importance of completing cardiovascular and strength training workouts on a regular basis. However, you may not yet realize the significance of another type of exercise, stretching. If you can relate, consider the following 4 important benefits of stretching exercises.
Benefits of Stretching Exercises
Increased Range of Motion
Whenever someone has surgery on a joint such as a knee, hip, or shoulder, they are often advised to immediately sign up for physical therapy. Usually, the first activity a patient is required to do in a rehabilitation program is stretching. Stretching exercises help the patient to increase the range of motion in their compromised joint by strengthening and lengthening the weak muscles around it. In addition to helping you recover from joint surgery, regular stretching may help you live a more active lifestyle as you get older. According to Sarah Dreifke, “As the body ages, muscles can become tighter and range of motion in the joints can be minimized.” But, regular stretching may keep your muscles flexible and strong.
Besides an increased range of motion, another of the benefits of stretching exercises is improved circulation. According to Beth Rifkin, having good blood circulation is crucial because “Oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your muscles and organs, including your heart, through your blood.” In order to gain the most circulatory benefits from stretching, you need to stretch correctly. To do so, you should always:
- Properly align joints such as the knee and ankle during a stretch
- Hold a stretch as soon as you begin feeling gentle resistance in your muscles
- Hold a stretch for 20 seconds
- Resist the urge to bounce while completing a stretch
- Constantly take a breath through your nose and release it through your mouth when stretching
Lower Stress Levels
Do you have a toddler, work a full-time job, and are struggling to cope with stress every day? Perhaps, you are a college student who’s taking several courses this semester in order to graduate early while holding down a part-time job. Regardless of your personal situation, you may be in desperate need of a proven stress reliever. When you’re stressed, your muscles tend to become tight. Having stiff, sore muscles can make you feel even more stressed. If you can relate, you need to clear some time in your busy schedule for daily stretching exercises. By merely stretching for 15 to 20 minutes each day, you might be able to drastically decrease your stress levels. While stretching, you will provide your mind with a much needed break while relaxing your muscles in the process.
Does your job require you to sit and stare at a computer screen all day long? If so, you may unknowingly be developing bad posture. Even if you don’t have a desk job, poor habits or injury can cause your spine to become misaligned. Stretching can help you maintain proper spinal alignment. In addition, it can also release the pressure that often accumulates between the discs of your spine.
While cardiovascular and strength training exercises are vital to your overall health and wellbeing, the mental and physical health benefits of stretching exercises shouldn’t be ignored. If you’ve never stretched regularly before, consult with a personal trainer at your local gym. He or she can help you develop a stretching routine that may change your life for the better.