Many non-athletes — and even a few actual jocks — are guilty of either rushing through their warm-up stretching, or skipping the cool-down moves after the workout. Yet, along with cardio and strength-training, stretching also delivers significant health benefits.
You probably already know that stretching extends your overall range of motion, while also elasticizing your muscles and enhancing coordination. But those improvements, in turn, bring about other health benefits. We can discuss more of these during your visit, but in the meantime here are some of the frequently-overlooked benefits of stretching.
The act of lengthening and loosening your muscles through stretching means that you’re simultaneously opening up their interior blood vessels. This increased circulation is crucial for heart health and lowered cholesterol. It’s also a boon for the muscles themselves, because the improved blood flow results in faster recovery time, and less overall soreness after a workout.
Longer term, improving your circulation is a superior mood enhancer and energy booster. The physiological impact of increased circulation means that your bloodstream is carrying more oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, allowing for higher energy.
The most obvious benefit of a decrease in muscular tensing is, of course, that your pain and discomfort is greatly lessened. That alone is a smart reason to add more stretching into your life, because relaxing those contracted muscles will instantly make you feel physically better.
There’s an emotional component to “de-knotting” your muscles, as well. You’ll literally feel as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders, which can’t help but lift your mood. Optimism is also restored because relaxed muscles allow all-important endorphins to flow, which banishes pessimism — and that dreaded midday fatigue.
Improved Flexibility and Posture
Enhancing both your flexibility and posture through stretching your joints and muscles are key to avoiding a range of pain-causing conditions.
Range of motion is vastly improved by regular stretching. Not only can you correct any joint stiffness you presently have through regular stretching as you’re extending your limbs as far as they can go, but you can also reduce the risks of future, motion-limiting injuries.
In terms of your muscle groups, stretching keeps the muscles supporting your spin lengthened and in perfect position. This proper alignment improves posture, and usually reduces any incidences of neck and back pain.
If any of these health issues sound familiar to you, please call St. Francis Sports Medicine today. We’ll work together to put together the stretching routine that’s best for you!