The Benefits of Stretching Exercises
Stretching is extremely important for your body, especially as you get older. The best way to avoid muscle imbalance in the future, is to incorporate stretching exercises into your daily life, whether you get a full-body workout that day or not. As we age, the muscles in our body’s lower region begin to shorten in length, causing a muscle imbalance, and the stretching exercises you can do here in the now will help you maintain flexibility for the years ahead. For those of you reading this article that are younger in age, keep in mind that the benefits of stretching exercises goes beyond increasing flexibility. These exercises can help you during these younger years as well.
Other benefits of stretching exercises are:
- Less muscle tension and soreness
- More relaxation, both mental and physical
- Reduction of menstrual cramps
- Better physical fitness and/or athletic performance
- Lower risk of muscle, joint, tendon or other body injuries
WHEN YOU SHOULD STRETCH
First of all, always remember that warming-up is NOT the same as stretching. The two are not one in the same—they go hand in hand. Stretching cold muscles can lead to tears, so make sure you warm up first. After your body temperature has risen, you can begin your stretching exercises.
After you workout, do not stretch right away. Your muscles need to register that your physical activity has stopped, therefore, allow your body to cool down and then do some finishing stretches.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WHEN STRETCHING
- Warm up thoroughly before stretching
- Make stretching exercises a habit
- Ease into a stretching routine
- Hold stretching positions for 30-60 seconds
- Rest for about 15-20 seconds between each stretch
- Pay attention to your body
WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO WHEN STRETCHING
- Hold your breath
- Continue stretching if you feel pain
- Stretch cold muscles
MUSCLE PAIN AND/OR DISCOMFORT
If stretching is done properly, then you shouldn’t feel any serious pain the next day. The benefits of stretching exercises should be positive and feeling pain the next day can be a sign of overstretching. As stated before, the best way to gain optimum flexibility over time is to ease your way into a stretching routine, especially if you’re not used to stretching on a regular basis.
If you feel continuous muscle pain and discomfort it could be due to a torn tissue, muscle fatigue or a muscle spasm. Continuous pain needs to be brought to your doctor’s attention to avoid a serious problem. The last thing you want is to make something small blow up into something that will hinder your performance for life.
MUSCLES THAT NEED STRETCHING
There are numerous muscles in your body that need attention. However, there is a basic order in which muscles need to be stretched.
It’s always best to stretch your back first before moving onto your sides. Next, you should focus on your buttocks (yep, even your butt needs some stretching). After that, focus on your calves, hamstrings, groin and quads (in that order). Finally, you can focus on your arms and then your chest.
WHAT STRETCHING WILL DO FOR YOU
One of the most important benefits of stretching exercises is that your muscles will become flexible and long. Adding length to your muscles will help you stay balanced and mobile for the years ahead. If you wish to improve your quality of life, stretching can definitely help. Make stretching a part of your daily life and start reaping the rewards.