Stretching is an extremely important practice to add to your daily routine to be on your way to better health. Even if you are not planning on exercising vigorously, it is still important to stretch in order to receive multiple benefits for your body and your mind.
Incorporating stretching into your daily workouts is a given but stretching is very important for flexibility, range of motion and injury prevention. It relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow and nutrients to your cartilage and muscles.
Stretching feels ah-mazing for a reason: The right stretches have the power to remake your workout, your health, and your life. Think we’re exaggerating? Read on to learn the super-awesome benefits of stretching.
1. Stretching Primes Your Muscles for Exercise
- If the first mile of every run feels like straight-up torture, you need to start warming up with dynamic stretches like leg swings, high knees, and bodyweight squats and lunges. A dynamic warm-up increases blood flow, moves the joint fluidly, and mimics the movements that will be completed during the workout.
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2. Stretching Improves Your Posture
- Improving your posture comes down to more than willing yourself to sit up straight. Tight muscles are synonymous with weak muscles, which lead to postural compensations.
3. Stretching Eases Back Pain
- Believe it or not, back pain may come from tight hamstrings. That’s because tight hammies increase the stress on the muscles surrounding your spine and in your lower back.
Related article: Reduce Back Pain With These 1 Minute Stretching Exercises
4. Stretching Improves Your Exercise Form
- Tight muscles don’t do anything good for your exercise form. After all, when your muscles start compensating for each other, proper bio-mechanics go out the window. By correcting muscular imbalances, static stretching helps you perform any exercise with better form, both improving your performance and preventing injury (more on that next).
5. Stretching Prevents Injury
- Performing dynamic stretching prior to exercise is important for preventing any of those “something snapped!” injuries that can occur when you work out with cold, tight muscles.
6. Stretching Boosts Your Joint Health
- Stretching is about way more than your muscles, though. It also moves your joints through their full range of motion (remember those pre-run dynamic stretches we mentioned?), increasing the flexibility in your tendons, which connect your muscles to bones, so you’re less likely to suffer from runner’s knee or tennis elbow.
7. Stretching Slashes Stress
- Stress reduces blood flow, resulting in muscle tension and knots. Meanwhile, stretching increases blood flow to your muscles to ease tension and help you feel more relaxed. Plus, once your blood gets pumping to your muscles, it also reaches your brain, where it can effectively boost your mood.
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8. Stretching Helps You Sleep Better
- Whether you sleep for five hours or eight hours, staying in one position for a length of time may cause you to feel stiff. Static stretching before going to bed will help relieve some tightness or cramping you may feel during the night.
- Bonus: By reducing stress, you’ll have a better chance of actually falling asleep in the first place.
9. Stretching Strengthens Your Muscles
- Stretching can’t replace your strength training routine, but it can help keep you strong. People who stretched their legs for 40 minutes a few times a week improved their one-rep max (the amount of weight they could lift at one time) by an average of 32 percent for knee extension (straightening) exercises and 15 percent for knee flexion (bending) exercises.
- They also improved their muscular endurance, vertical jump distance, and standing long-jump distance.
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10. Stretching Improves Your Flexibility
- The saying: if you don’t use it, you lose it’ rings true. When we limit our body’s mobility, we become less mobile. That’s because, without stretching, not only do your muscles and connectives become tighter, but your neurological system thinks that they should stay that way or else you’ll hurt yourself.
- A healthy dose of stretching, though, can make your muscles more flexible plus retrain your brain to let you move in ways you couldn’t before.