Stretching and flexibility exercises are more than just a good idea. They’re an important part of any complete fitness and wellness routine. This is the case whether you’re a dyed in the wool gym rat or someone who almost never works out.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at some of the many reasons why everyone should be stretching and working on becoming more flexible. We’ll touch on how you can make sure you’re approaching the process properly, as well.
1. Improve posture and blood flow.
Flexibility exercises don’t deliver results that are as easy to see as those attached to weight lifting, squatting, or endurance running. However, you can rest assured that they’re there, nevertheless. Adding a flexibility-based activity like yoga or Pilates to your routine can, over time, reduce aches and pains, as well as improve your mood. It can correct or improve your posture as well.
That’s because stretching works to increase your blood flow and improve your overall circulation. All of your body parts simply perform better, when that’s the case, including your brain.
2. Counteract the negative effects of sitting.
Here in the digital age, the average person spends more time sitting than ever before. This is especially the case when it comes to their jobs. All that sitting is tough on your body and your health, especially over time.
If you’re a chronic sitter, and have been for some time, then it’s possible that the nerves that activate your glutes have already started to degenerate. This can lead to other joints and muscles becoming overstressed, resulting in chronic pain in the lower back, knees, and other places. Stretching exercises can help keep your glute muscles active and are beneficial whether or not you work out.
3. Improve your balance.
Long periods of time spent sedentary aren’t all that can cause or exacerbate chronic pain. Even normal daily use of certain muscles can do that. This is especially the case if you routinely carry a backpack or purse. The heavier and more cumbersome the bag, the higher the chances that the muscles on one side of your body will tense up and become painful.
When you stretch regularly, you help to alleviate that tightness and keep your muscles limber. Your balance and alignment will improve, as a result.
4. Improve the quality and safety of your workouts.
Of course, if you are active and working out regularly, stretching can be even more beneficial. To begin with, stretching helps activate and loosen up your joints and muscles, preparing them to be used. Not only will proper preparedness get you ready to engage in a workout of any intensity level, but it will drastically reduce your chances of sustaining an injury as well.
Stretching can also help you avoid soreness and tightness later on by helping to cool your body down after a workout. Get in the habit of doing an all-over body stretch routine after you’re done with your activity for the day, paying special attention to the very muscles you’ve just focused on training.
How to Approach Stretching
As is the case with any type of physical activity, stretching needs to be performed properly if you’re going to reap the benefits of it. Many people stop at the first sign of resistance when stretching. However, they should be holding the stretch when they reach that point and breathing their way through it instead. Try it! You’ll feel the muscle in question starting to loosen and relax after just a few seconds – a sign that you’re performing the stretch correctly.
You can also modify and adapt your stretching to suit your needs and comfort level. Having trouble with knee or joint pain because of hard floors or other surfaces? Put some padding under your knees or get in the habit of using a yoga mat. (Stability balls can also make excellent tools when it comes to stretching.) You should also feel free to alter your position in order to get more comfortable. If something’s not working sitting down, try it standing up or lying down instead.
At the end of the day, stretching and flexibility-based exercises are the most important things active people aren’t doing. If that’s the case for you, change that today. You’ll love the way it makes you feel!