The Health Benefits of a Good Stretch

Everybody knows the importance of stretching at the beginning of a workout and that after a long car ride, stretching your arms and legs feels good.  Stretching your muscles and joints throughout the day and night has many surprising health benefits for your body and mind. A good stretch can make all the difference in your mood your flexibility, and your productivity.

Movement and Sports

When our body is at rest, whether asleep or sitting in a chair, our muscles tighten and shorten.  By stretching them, you’re stretching them in the literal sense―stretching elongates your muscles, which increases flexibility and range of motion, making you less susceptible to injuries or slipping and falling.  If you participate in sports, stretching your muscles can improve performance and lessen your chances of injury. It helps muscles heal after strenuous exercise by realigning muscle tissue, reducing pain and next-day muscle stiffness.

Overall Benefits

Stretching isn’t just for athletes.  As we age, our muscles lose elasticity.  Stretching increases blood supply to joints and muscles which brings needed nutrients to the muscles as well as giving a boost of energy. Stretching can relieve stress on the spine, decreasing back pain and improves posture by lengthening muscles.

Stretching is also a great way to reduce stress.  A good stretch releases tension in the muscles making your body more relaxed and can decrease tension headaches.  

A study appearing in the Journal of Physiotherapy found in participants with Type 2 diabetes or at risk for Type 2 diabetes that stretching muscles can lower your blood glucose levels in the way that exercising can. 

Yoga, The Ultimate Stretch

Yoga is all about stretching, breathing, strength, and balance.  A good yoga session should not only give you a workout, but it should also give you a full-body stretch that leaves you feeling both relaxed and energized.  Yoga is highly accessible and benefits are many no matter what your skill level. Yoga exercises can be modified to make them easier so elderly people or people who may lack some mobility can participate and reap the rewards of yoga.  Yoga can even slow down the pace of aging!     

When To Stretch

Stretches should be done throughout the day, especially after you’ve been in one position for an extended period.  It doesn’t need to be a full-body stretch or complete yoga session but a few stretches targeting those muscles that feel tight can give your body a better range of motion and keep it from feeling stiff.

In the morning.  Most people don’t have perfect posture during sleep.  We sleep on our stomach or curled up on our side and when we climb out of bed, our bodies complain with cracks and creeks and feel pains that weren’t there the night before.  By stretching when getting out of bed, we can get everything lined up properly again and improve posture. It will increase your blood flow and get you energized to take on the long day.

At work.  If you have a job that requires you to sit or stand for hours at a time, you should stretch often.  When you sit in one place for hours at a time, your muscles aren’t being used so they shorten.  By routinely getting up for a good stretch, you can lengthen and elongate those muscles, decrease aches and pains, reduce stress, and energize yourself so you refocus on work. 

Before bed.  Stretching before bed can release the tensions that built up in your muscles throughout the day.  It can help your body get into a more relaxed state for bed.

Stretching your muscles is maintenance for your body.  The body is a machine, and like any machine, when it sits inactive for too long, it stiffens up and it’s more difficult for it to get moving again.  Periodic stretching keeps that machine moving and the best news is, anyone can do it! Some simple stretches to improve flexibility can be found here.  

At North County Pain Relief, we know the importance of a good stretch and the benefits to the body when muscles are loosened and flexible.  Tight muscles in the hamstrings and hips can cause back pain and stretching those areas can help relieve that pain. Through chiropractic adjustments, we can help you improve your body’s range of motion and flexibility which can keep you moving without pain.  Call North County Pain Relief today at (314) 731-4201 and find out how we can help. And in the meantime, keep stretching those muscles!