How stretching regularly can benefit your life
What is the first thing a cat does when it wakes up, stretches!
It is is our instinct as humans to stretch and get the blood flowing through our muscles to wake up the body. Not only is it instinctual, it also has a tonne of benefits and is super important to incorporate into your daily routine. Stretching is the ideal tool to warm up our muscles and prepare the body for exercise, as well as loosen muscles afterwards.
Ultimately, it keeps muscles flexible and strong in order to maintain a range of motion in the joints, plus it can prevent injury too!
What are the specific benefits of stretching?
Think of stretching like riding a bike. A well oiled and looked-after bicycle will move a lot smoother than one that is rusty (and is at risk of falling part). The same goes for your body. The more warmed up your muscles are before and after exercise, the better the results will be and less chance of you getting injured.
There are a whole range of proven benefits to stretching each day, before and after exercise. Here are some examples:
- Improved posture: By loosening tight muscles in areas like your chest, lower and upper back, and hips, you can improve and maintain better posture. This is particularly important if you work sitting at a desk or have minimal movement throughout the day.
- Prevents loss of range of motions in joints: It is important to maintain a range of motion in our joints as we age – stretching gives us the best chance of doing that throughout each stage of life.
- Prevents injury: By bringing blood flow to your muscles, warming them up and decreasing tightness before exercise, you’ll reduce the likelihood of injuring yourself. To prevent over-stretching ensure you listen to your body’s limits.
- Decreases muscle soreness: It’s not a great feeling having sore muscles after an epic workout, but stretching your muscles can reduce the chance of you feeling this way post exercise.
- Promotes flexibility: Being flexible is crucial to increasing your performance during exercise. Stretching your body regularly builds up flexibility and increases your range of motion.
- Promotes blood circulation: Stretching enhances blood flow, oxygen levels and delivers nutrients to your muscles while steading the heart rate. Plus, it can also remove metabolic waste like carbon dioxide, ammonia and uric acid.
Check out Nathan’s Full Body Cool Down & Stretch session to help with recovery, improve flexibility, and promote muscle longevity as you age.
How can I include stretching in my daily routine?
Stretching doesn’t have to be a chore, it can be as simple as setting aside a few minutes in the day to loosen up your muscles. So that’s why we’ve put together a bunch of handy tips around the dos and don’ts of stretching everyday – check them out:
Basic techniques of stretching:
- Hold stretch for 30 second to get the full extension
- Breathe through the stretch
- Aim to feel tension in your stretch, not pain.
- Strive for symmetry and having equal flexibility on each side of the body, this will help prevent potential injury where the body is weaker.
- Don’t overstretch or try and be too flexible as it may cause injury
- Don’t bounce as this can tighten muscles as you try to stretch them out
- Don’t stretch in areas of your body where your joint motion is limited, your joints are infected or inflamed, you have a bone fracture, sprain or strain, or if you are injured.
To get started you can watch many of our online videos created by yogis in our new video hub, including different rejuvenating after work stretches like Tracy’s Workday Relief Yoga, and Katie’s After Work Yoga. To stretch more targeted areas of the body you could try out Shyamala’s Hip Opening Yoga session, Yoga for a Healthy Spine, or Rose’s Yoga for Joints.
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Live Life Get Active is a registered health promotion charity that offers FREE outdoor activity camps and wellbeing and nutritional programmes to help address obesity, diabetes and mental health. Our vision is to build fitter, healthier and happier communities right across Australia. Our in-park offering is supported by a comprehensive digital offering.