The incredible natural ability of stretching allows us to move and feel better, release stress, and prevent injury. Stretching is like a chain link. It connects the mind and body, brings harmony and balance, and renewed vitality to the fabric of life.
However, the consequences of prolonged deskwork and sitting too much tighten and stiffen muscles. And each day, when not corrected, it continues to worsen. The power of stretching is often overlooked to reverse issues like tension, pain, and musculoskeletal disorders and issues. Furthermore, to stretch out the anxiety and stress disrupting your mind.
A regular stretching routine of only 10 to 15 minutes daily can have the same effect as taking medicine. Don’t have 15 minutes, you say. Well, I have an answer for every excuse. Take 5 minutes and stretch three times throughout your day. Here is why.
Benefits of Stretching Daily
Stretching improves flexibility
Think of stretching as the medicine for immobility and tension. For example, if you are sitting too much every day, your body will increase tension and create imbalances that diminish your flexibility. Stretching throughout your day will help restore and reprogram flexibility and mobility back to your muscles and joints.
Improves range of motion
Tension in your muscles inhibits your range of motion. Also, having more tension in one muscle creates an imbalance in your joints. Stretching helps disperse tension so muscles can be pliable and flexible. In turn, this will also diminish joint tension, improving mobility and motion for joints to move more freely. It is like having a clogged drain. Release the clog, and the water flows, like removing tension in a muscle to increase a joint’s freedom and remove the limitation.
It enhances blood flow to your muscles
Improve your circulation and enhance your blood flow by stretching. You can control blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation by improving your circulation. Also, doing this helps deliver blood to muscles to recover faster from exercise, training, or just in general.
Restore and improve posture
Muscle tension imbalances, especially in the hip, lead to poor posture. By stretching the hamstring and hip flexors, you can rebalance your hips. And the rebalance of your hips improves your spine’s alignment, which corrects posture. Stretching releases tension in your hips so your spine can be aligned and free. Also, you can stretch your chest, which can help align your spine to be more upright.
Another example is your hamstrings. They get tight from sitting for many hours during the day. And when you stand up, your lower back feels tension. Well, by stretching your hamstrings, you will release tension that is causing lower back pain.
When muscles are tight, it is not a localized issue. It will affect the whole body. Stretching tight muscles restores the balance that can alleviate pain and restore posture.
Different Types of Stretching
There are many ways to stretch. For example, there are static, PNF, dynamic, and ballistic techniques and forms.
For the general population, static stretching works best. However, don’t do dynamic and ballistic stretching until you know how your muscles stretch and react first.
If you are going to exercise, run, or are an athlete, static stretching is good for non-training recovery days. However, don’t static stretch before practice, games, or any athletic event. Dynamic and ballistic stretching is best because it will improve the explosiveness of your muscles. And static stretching will diminish it.
How to Stretch Properly
The issues with stretching tend to be focused on forcing and overstretching a muscle. And in doing this, you will not improve flexibility. In fact, it has the opposite effect. Instead, it will make your muscles tighter and can lead to injury.
First, you must know your limit. Knowing your limitations is where the magic happens. For your muscle to stretch, you must hold the tension impeding the stretch of the muscle. When you stretch, stop when you feel the tension. This tension should prevent you from stretching any further.
Now, instead of forcing your stretch, hold the tension barrier for 7-10 seconds at the point where the stretch stops. This allows the proprioceptors time to adapt and adjust to the tension. After 7-10 seconds of holding the tension, the muscle will naturally stretch more. This is the key to unlocking your flexibility
If you try to force the stretch at the tension barrier, it will not work. Instead, it will inhibit your stretch by making your muscle contract via the stretch reflex to prevent injury. Did you ever wonder why you cannot maintain flexibility by stretching and forcing? Well, that’s why.
Safety Tips for Stretching
1 )Warm up before you stretch. Walk or jog for 5 minutes. When muscles are warm, they are more pliable to stretch. Stretching a cold muscle is an injury waiting to happen.
2) Don’t force your stretches. If you force a stretch without waiting for the tension to disperse, it is like trying to force a circle peg into a square hole. It is not going to work much like forcing flexibility on a muscle. So instead, relax, breathe, and stretch.
3) If you have a previous injury, stretch slowly with caution.
Stretching for 15-minutes a day can possibly keep the doctor away. However, by incorporating 10-15 minutes of stretching daily, you can enhance your range of motion, improve your posture, and relax your mind. It really affects your mind and body integration, not just muscle.