The importance of stretching is something we learn at a young age. It helps to loosen up your muscles both before and after a workout to prevent them from becoming stiff. Stretching helps our bodies prepare for physical activity in order to stay safe and healthy while we exercise. Stretching is also a fundamental component of many physical therapy treatment plans, as it helps to strengthen and support muscles after an injury. It can also help prevent injuries from developing in the future when done properly and regularly. The benefits of stretching also don’t stop there!
The benefits of stretching can help in achieving your health and athletic pursuits, but the benefits go even further beyond that – it can help in improving your overall quality of life. By working with a physical therapist, you can learn the proper ways to stretch in order to heal an injury and/or work on improving your function. Schedule a consultation with one of our physical therapists today to find out how our services can benefit you!
1. Increases your flexibility
Regular stretching can help increase your flexibility, which is crucial for your overall health. Not only can improved flexibility help you to perform everyday activities with relative ease, but it can also help delay the reduced mobility that can come with aging.
2. Increases your range of motion
Being able to move a joint through its full range of motion gives you more freedom of movement. Stretching on a regular basis can help increase your range of motion.
One study found that both static and dynamic stretching are effective when it comes to increasing range of motion, although proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)-type stretching, where you stretch a muscle to its limit, may be more effective for immediate gains.
3. Improves your performance in physical activities
Performing dynamic stretches prior to physical activities has been shown to help prepare your muscles for the activity. It may also help improve your performance in an athletic event or exercise.
4. Increases blood flow to your muscles
Performing stretches on a regular basis may improve your circulation. Improved circulation increases blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness (also known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS).
5. Improves your posture
Muscle imbalances are common and can lead to poor posture. One study found that a combination of strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment. That, in turn, may help improve your posture.
6. Helps to heal and prevent back pain
Tight muscles can lead to a decrease in your range of motion. When this happens, you increase the likelihood of straining the muscles in your back. Stretching can help heal an existing back injury by stretching the muscles.
A regular stretching routine can also help prevent future back pain by strengthening your back muscles and reducing your risk for muscle strain.
7. Is great for stress relief
When you’re experiencing stress, there’s a good chance your muscles are tense. That’s because your muscles tend to tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Focus on areas of your body where you tend to hold your stress, such as your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
8. Can calm your mind
Participating in a regular stretching program not only helps increase your flexibility, but it can also calm your mind. While you stretch, focus on mindfulness and meditation exercises, which give your mind a mental break.
9. Helps decrease tension headaches
Tension and stress headaches can interfere with your daily life. In addition to a proper diet, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest, stretching may help reduce the tension you feel from headaches.
10. Stretching can help prevent injury.
If you stretch a muscle too far, it will become strained or torn. If your stretch and increase the range in which a muscle can move, the likelihood of injuring it decreases. Stretching before physical activity specifically helps prevent injury by bringing blood flow to the muscles, warming them up, and decreasing any tightness they might have to prevent a strain or a tear.
11. Stretching can decrease muscle soreness.
If you have soreness in a muscle or muscle group from a recent workout or from a muscle strain, stretching can help relieve some of this discomfort. Many times, when we are injured, the muscles around the injury site tighten up as a protective response. By stretching these tight muscles out, pain and soreness can be alleviated.