A healthy lifestyle should be balanced with nutrition and exercise. Most people know, that in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, nutrition is just as important as exercise and vice versa. What some may not know, is that there are three components to exercise that are all equally important as well. Exercise includes cardiovascular training, resistance training, as well as stretching.
Benefits of Stretching
Stretching is essential to keep your muscles young, active, and healthy! After working out, lactic acid builds up making them sore and fatigued. Stretching reduces this tension so you can get back in the gym feeling energized instead of tired. Don’t believe me yet? I’ve gathered some benefits of stretching just to show you how necessary it really is for both your physiological and psychological health.
- Stretching will encourage you to workout again! Most people skip workouts due to exhaustion and soreness. Stretching after a workout, while you are warm, circulates blood through your muscles- reducing tightness that leads to soreness the next day.
- Stretching can decrease stress. Stretching allows you to cool down and really relax. Being quiet and relaxed allows us to think about how our bodies are feeling, which parts are most sore, more flexible, aching… Focusing on nothing else but relieving pain from your body can easily reduce stress and help calm your nerves. Breathe, relax, and give your muscles your undivided attention.
- Stretching enhances your flexibility. Make stretching a habit so that with consistency you can become more flexible. Flexibility makes daily activities much easier. You will be able to bend, reach, and sit more comfortably with flexible muscles that are conveniently rid of tension.
- Stretching will improve blood circulation. After an intense workout, your body is pumping blood quickly, increasing your heart rate. Stretching while warm will allow your body to cool down correctly and lower your heart rate back down to normal.
- Stretching may reduce risk of injury. Because stretching can improve flexibility, it provides your joints with a better range of motion. Therefore, while performing physical activities, your joints can move through their full range of motion enabling your muscles to perform better.
Do’s and Don’t(s) of Stretching
- DO focus on major muscle groups like your calves, hamstrings, lower back, and neck/shoulders. These are muscle groups you typically use everyday so take care of them to ease through daily activities.
- DON’T cause pain to yourself while stretching. Stretching should be relaxing and relieving. There will be tightness but it should never feel excruciating, so don’t push yourself to do something you know your body is not capable of. This is not a “no pain, no gain” situation!
- DO hold your stretch for about 30 seconds or so. Take time for your muscles to relieve tension and fully relax. Stretching each muscle for a couple seconds won’t bring any benefits.
- DON’T use stretching to warm up your muscles before a work out. Stretching cold muscles can have negative impacts on your body like pulls or strains.
- DO add movement to your stretching like yoga and foam rolling. Consistent focus on movement and stretching will definitely increase flexibility and mobility of your muscles.
- DON’T bounce while you stretch in a static position. Always move slowly and smoothly through your stretching, bouncing can cause injury to the muscles you are working on.
Tips: Watch for another article on Foam Rolling that will teach you techniques of stretching for good feeling muscles!