The body is a complicated network of joints, muscles and organs that work together seamlessly so that you can go about your business, moving freely and accomplishing whatever you put your mind to. Taking a few minutes every day to tend to your body can help you keep it healthy and happy so you can keep pushing forward. This is why dieting and exercise are such important habits to practice regularly, but healthy living doesn’t stop there. Taking a few minutes every day to stretch has a surprising number of benefits.
Stretch It Out
For most people, the introduction to stretching comes in the form of an elementary school gym class. Before and sometimes even after an activity, your gym teacher would guide you through a set of motions and movements so that you can stretch your arms, legs, neck and torso. You would rotate your arms in circles, bend over to reach your toes, and maybe even jog in place for a few minutes, or perhaps do a few jumping jacks.
Stretching is an important way to prepare your body for physical activity, but the benefits of this form of exercise stretch way beyond the basics of warming up your muscles for physical activity. There are actual benefits that stretching can have on your day-to-day life outside of your exercise routine. For example, stretching is a fundamental component of many physical therapy practices, as it provides a way to strengthen and support muscles following an injury. Stretching can also help prevent injuries from developing, especially when done regularly and correctly.
Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Start Stretching Today:
- Enhance Your Posture. When you stretch, you can improve the muscles in your back and shoulders, and this can actually improve your posture, which can reduce back and neck pain. To focus on your posture, work on stretching the muscles affecting your spine alignment, including the lower back, chest and shoulders.
- Reduce Stress. Stretching is a great way to relieve stress. Many people carry stress around with them in different parts of the body, frequently the back, neck and shoulders. Stretching these areas can help you to experience mental and emotional relief from stress, in addition to physical relief. This is part of the reason as to why yoga is so frequently recommended for stress management.
- Reduce Discomfort. Stretching can reduce physical discomfort by increasing your flexibility and range of motion. In addition to preventing muscle injury, stretching daily can simply help you to feel more comfortable with everyday movements.
- Increase Stamina. Stretching your muscles every day does more than help them grow stronger — it can help them to stay stronger for longer. Stretching improves muscle stamina, and this means more comfort in the moment of physical exertion as well as long-term stamina by helping you to remain stronger longer with age. Stretching before a workout can help you power through your workout at a more intense level.
- Improve Energy Levels. When that 2pm feeling settles in at the office, most of us want to turn to sugar and caffeine to stay awake. But the smarter choice is to start stretching. Engaging in a little bit of simple stretching can help you experience a jolt of energy that can help you make healthier choices and be more alert throughout the afternoon.
There are plenty of reasons to start stretching, and the benefits go far beyond your physical health and athletic pursuits. However, if you haven’t had much experience stretching, then it is important to be careful as you get started. Working with a physical therapist can help you learn the proper ways to stretch. Also, if you have ever experienced a past injury that causes you lingering pain, then it is important to talk to a physical therapist about the source of that pain before attempting any new stretches.
Contact us at Peak Performance PTin Lansing & Okemos, MI, to see how physical therapy can help you live a pain-free life.