Stretching is important and should be practiced regularly, or even daily if possible. In order to feel the benefits, it should be done two to three times a week.
The earlier in life that you start stretching, the better. Developing flexibility through stretching can help delay reduced mobility from aging and help seniors stay active and retain independence.
Here are five benefits of stretching, and tips on how to safely stretch:
Strong and Healthy Muscles
Stretching promotes strong, healthy muscles. Without stretching, the muscles shorten and become tight. With shortened muscles, you are at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
#1 Tip: Avoid Injury
Stretching isn’t rigorous, but that doesn’t mean that it is totally harmless and you can’t get injured. For example, if a muscle is already strained and you try to stretch it, you may cause further harm. You might have to adjust your stretching technique if you have a chronic condition or injury.
With flexible muscles, you can maintain a range of motion in the joints and have more freedom of movement. Without that range of motion, even simple things like walking become harder to do. If you suddenly ask your muscles to do something strenuous, like a game of tennis, the muscles can become damaged from suddenly being stretched, resulting in injury.
#2 Tip: Target
Concentrate on stretching major muscle groups such as calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Stretch both sides, and try to make your stretching symmetrical. Stretch the muscles and joints that you use a lot.
When the muscles are long, lean, and flexible from stretching, it can aid those with balance problems and help them avoid falls.
#3 Tip: Duration
Hold the stretches for about 30 seconds and don’t bounce. If you experience pain, you’ve pushed too far.
Stretching improves your posture and promotes proper alignment, leading to less musculoskeletal pain. It helps prevent back pain by reducing muscle strain.
#4 Tip: Purpose
Tailor your stretches to the activity or sport you are going to participate in.
A response to physical or emotional stress is often tightened muscles. Stretching them provides stress relief. It can calm your mind and provide relief for tension headaches.
Why Yoga is a Good Way to Stretch
Yoga has enduring popularity because of its many benefits. Not only does it provide excellent stretches, but it strengthens you at the same time. Other benefits include calorie burning and muscle toning.
The stretching poses are combined with deep breathing and meditative relaxation for a total mind and body workout.
Depending on what you want from your yoga practice, you can have vigorous, active stretching or gentle contemplative stretching.
People of all ages and fitness levels can do basic yoga poses and stretches. It doesn’t require any special equipment, because you use your own bodyweight for resistance. You can do it for free in your own home!
However you stretch, the important thing is to stretch!