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The benefits of stretching
How stretching positively impacts your body and mind
Want to incorporate an easy daily routine that will improve your mental and physical health? Discover the true benefits of stretching.
While stretching is often associated with yoga or athletes, don’t underestimate the importance of stretching as a part of an everyday routine.
The power of stretching holds huge benefits for the body and the mind, no matter who you are. Stretching daily will improve your posture, soothe body aches, increase blood circulation and more.
There are also many mental benefits of stretching. A good stretch can improve your mood, reduce stress and have a significant impact on your emotional state as well.
According to Harvard Medical School, everyone needs to stretch their calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps on a daily basis. If a daily stretching practice is too overwhelming, aim for at least three or four times a week.
When stretching, hold your position for 30 seconds. To avoid injury, do not bounce while stretching. While feeling tension during a stretch is normal, stop and contact your doctor if you feel pain.
Over time, you’ll benefit from major mental and physical impacts. Here are the top six benefits of stretching to improve your physical and mental health.
1. Stretching improves flexibility
Over time, stretching will improve your flexibility and minimize the likelihood of injuring yourself (painful torn or ripped muscles) in daily life and during exercise. Injuries happen when Inflexible muscles get tired. Tired muscles also put unnecessary strain on the opposing muscle groups. Strengthening and lengthening muscles can help prevent injuries.
2. Stretching increases range of motion
As we age, we start to lose our range of motion. Stretching will help to slow that process and increase overall mobility. When we can properly move our muscles, it makes pulled or stiff muscles less of a threat. Full range of motion also maintains the health of important cartilage by keeping a healthy flow of blood supply and nutrients moving through your muscles and joints. Improved blood flow to our muscles can also reduce recovery time and muscle soreness after a workout.
3. Stretching creates better alignment
When the body gets out of alignment, it can cause challenges with balance, metabolism and visual acuity. One study found that stretching can encourage proper alignment, which will recenter the body and pull it back into balance.
4. Stretching improves posture
One of the most overlooked components of our overall health is posture. Good posture can dramatically improve certain aspects of our physical health. Poor posture can be highly destructive – causing stiffness, soreness and aching muscles. Without properly stretching, posture suffers. This can have deep ramifications on our mental health. Some studies have shown a correlation between bad posture and depression.
5. Stretching calms your mind
Tony often says that our physical state directly affects our mental state. One of the many mental benefits of stretching is that it creates a quiet opportunity to calm your mind. While you stretch, use the time to give your mind a break and focus on meditation or mindfulness practices.
6. Stretching reduces stress
When we are stressed, it’s natural for our muscles to tense up. The slow, calculated movement of stretching is calming to the mind and relieves tension. This makes stretching an easy but effective way to reduce stress. For the best stress-relieving benefits, focus on stretching the areas where you tend to hold your stress – your neck, shoulders and upper back.
With all of these benefits, it’s worth spending a bit more time on stretching. Incorporate a stretching routine into your day and see what it does for you.
*Please consult your physician to identify your personal limitations before putting a stretching regimen into place.
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