Seven Reasons to Stretch

We all hear a lot about exercising and all of the wonderful things it can do for your mind and body (and, indeed, it can!). What is often overlooked, though, is the importance of including stretching as a main component of your fitness routine and lifestyle.

No matter what your age, stretching is for you. If you are in college, it will help you sit through long lectures and increase your mental focus. If you’re already into the workday grind, stretching will help to improve your posture and clear your mind.

Stretching feels so good because it helps your muscles to relax. And when this happens, oxygen is able to flow through and nutrients are delivered optimally. Meanwhile, wastes get taken away.

Stretching also increases your flexibility, which is key to making everyday tasks in your life — from trekking across campus to class to picking up your 2-year-old — easier.

7 Reasons to Stretch Today

When most of us think of stretching, we think about it in terms of before and after a workout. You should, definitely, stretch after a workout (there is some debate as to whether it actually helps prevent injury beforehand), but here at the Nutritional Institute we believe stretching should be much more a part of your day than that.

Stretching is an ideal way to start your day off, the moment you step out of bed, and to wrap your day up, just before you hop into bed for the night. Linda Slater Dowling swears by this routine! After all, stretching costs nothing and you can do it almost anywhere, so you really have nothing to lose.

Not yet convinced?

Here are seven reasons you may want to give stretching a try today

These are the seven benefits!

1. Increase Flexibility. This will enhance your physical performance, relieve muscle tension, and increase the range of motion of your joints. Although flexibility will try to diminish as you age — don’t let it! Keep stretching and you’ll stay flexible.
2. Improve Your Posture. Tight muscles can make you slump, slouch and sit in strange positions. Looser muscles, which you get from stretching, will allow you to maintain good posture while keeping aches and pains to a minimum.
3. Relieve Stress. You know the feeling; you’re worrying like crazy about your 20-page research paper or how you’re going to find that perfect gift for your aunt’s wedding, and your muscles are as hard as a rock. Stretching will relax your muscles and your mind.
4. Get Better Circulation. When you stretch, blood flows to your muscles, bringing in nourishment and getting rid of waste. This improved circulation can also help your muscles to recover faster from injury.
5. Stay Coordinated. Because stretching keeps you flexible and able to use a full range of motion, it also helps keep you balanced. This is especially important to maintain as you get older.
6. Clear Your Mind and Stay Focused. Stretching increases circulation and blood flow to all areas of your body, including your brain.
7. Reduce Back Pain. By increasing the range of motion in your muscles and helping them to relax, you will find that back pain, soreness and stiffness are relieved.

Wait! Before You Stretch, Read This

It’s quite possible to injure yourself if you stretch incorrectly. Keep these tips from the Mayo Clinic in mind to ensure that your stretching gives you the benefits it should.

  • First, warm up. Pump your arms or jog in place for a few minutes to reduce your risk of pulling a muscle.
  • Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, and don’t bounce!
  • Stretch (slowly) as far as you can, but back off if you feel any pain.
  • Remember to keep breathing.
  • After you’ve stretched one side, be sure to stretch the other. This will ensure you have a full, and balanced, range of motion.
  • Stretch lightly before you exercise and again afterward.

by Linda Slater-Dowling