Stretching Is Important
Having big, strong muscles is not always the answer to becoming great at your sport or physical hobby. It is how you use those muscles that make the difference between good and great. When training or working out, most people often overlook their flexibility. To make the most of your muscles, you have to learn how to stretch and how to use your flexibility. Your body is full of muscles, joints, and tendons. Your muscles are attached to your bones by tendons that make your bones and joints move. The stronger your muscles are, the faster your bones will move, but if your joints and tendons are stiff, your muscles stop short before reaching their maximum power.
When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you do? You stretch! When you have been sitting, watching television for a long time, or working on the computer, and you decide to get up, your first instinct is probably to stretch, even if it is just a little bit. It just feels like the right thing to do, and that is for a reason. When you don’t move as much as you need to, your muscles get tight; stretching can help you to lengthen your muscles and tendons so you feel better and can move more easily.
There are some benefits as to why you should stretch. Stretching helps to improve flexibility; increases your range of motion; and assists in correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position. Many of us have tight chest muscles which pull the shoulders and head forward because of so much time at our computers or tablets leaving us with a hunched shoulder look. Stretching increases your flexibility and not only increases your maximum potential for power, speed, balance, and agility, but it also can keep you out of the hospital. The most common injuries are from muscle tears. Muscle tears usually happen when the muscle extends too far. If you could use some more energy, stretching can definitely help you in that department as well. When you stretch the different muscle groups in the body, you benefit by getting increased blood circulation, and increased blood circulation means more energy for you. Surely, you could benefit from having a bit more ‘mojo’ in the morning. There is a reason why experts recommend that you exercise in the morning rather than at night.
Have you already torn a muscle? Well then, stretching is the most important thing for your recovery. Doctors will send you to a physiotherapist who will teach you all types of different ways to stretch your injured body part. You may be asked to exercise with elastic resistors that will help bring back strength to the injured muscle. If your posture or activities are a problem, make it a habit to stretch those muscles regularly.
Women have a bit more to benefit when it comes to stretching properly and regularly. Research has pointed to the fact that stretching properly and on a regular basis with the right muscle groups can help make menstrual cycle shorter, more regular, and a bit easier to deal with. Menstrual pain is less prevalent in women who find reasons to stretch, although it is important to stretch gently and to not over-do it. Women who make stretching a part of their daily routine, whether they exercise or not and regardless of whether or not it is ‘that time of the month’, have less painful cycles, and that is reason enough for many women to start stretching. Stretching is one activity that you can (and should) do every day of the week! Aim to spend at least 5-10 minutes stretching most days of the week, and at least 5 days for optimal benefit.
In addition, proper stretching techniques can help you reduce the amount of tension in your muscles and help you to become more relaxed overall, in both the body and the mind. When your body is relaxed, life is much better and you will find yourself feeling happy and calm and relaxed. Many people do not associate stretching with their mental state, when in all actuality stretching may be more beneficial to your mind than it is to your body.
Alexa Garcia, LMBT
Urbana Wellness Spa