Stretching, in its most basic form, is a natural and automatic action. People often stretch instinctively after waking from sleep or after long periods of inactivity.
While the benefits of daily exercise are numerous and well known, the benefits of a regular stretching routine are far less emphasized but just as important. Incorporating stretching into your daily workouts or into your regular day on their own is just as important to health and body functioning as regular exercise.For The Body
The most established and obvious benefit of stretching is to help improve flexibility and range of motion. As the body ages, muscles can become tighter and range of motion in the joints can be minimized. A lack of flexibility can cause movement to become slower and less fluid, making an individual more susceptible to muscle strains or other soft tissue injuries. This can put a damper on active lifestyles and even hinder day-to-day, normal motions. An increase in flexibility is accompanied by improved balance and coordination.
For The Mind
Everyone has stress. A buildup of stress causes your muscles to contract, becoming tense. This tension can go on to have a negative impact on just about every part of your body. Like all types of exercise, flexibility exercises like stretching have powerful stress-busting abilities. Spending just a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) stretching each day can help calm the mind, providing a mental break and giving your body a chance to recharge.
To get the most out of your stretching routine keep in mind the following:
Skip the Pre-Workout StretchBefore you begin your stretching, your muscles should be warm. Do a warm up of light walking, biking or jogging at a low intensity for 5 to 10 minutes. Or better yet, stretch after the workout when your muscles are already warm.
Focus on Muscles That Need the Most Help
Instead of trying to stretch your whole body, focus on a key area of the body at a time. Spend longer on each stretch and include more stretches for each area. If you are aware that certain muscles are tighter than others, focus your attention on those as you stretch.
Avoid Caffeine and Sugary Drinks
Though caffeinated beverages like soda and energy drinks can be beneficial when studying or doing late-night homework, they are ultimately harmful in the long run. The combination of caffeine and sugar in these drinks causes you to crash and feel bad later. If you need an energy boost, try eating foods high-protein, high-fiber foods.