Stretching is an important part of maintaining a healthy, pain-free body. So important that our therapists, at MELT Massage in Raleigh NC, routinely offer stretches that may help in the healing process. Sadly, stretching is usually one part of fitness routines that is generally neglected or flat-out ignored. Here are 6 reasons to consider developing a short and simple daily stretching routine.
1. Increase flexibility and range of motion
The most obvious benefit to regular stretching is increasing your soft tissue flexibility. Along with that comes an increased range of motion. Stretching helps you move more freely in your own body! As simple and obvious as that sounds, its a big deal. If you have ever noticed how good it feels to put on a comfortable pair of pajamas after wearing constricting clothes all day, you’ll understand why. Pajamas are usually loose fitted and allow you to move without the material limiting how far you can reach and bend. Stretching your body is like helping your muscles and fascia put on their pajamas.
2. Reduces muscle tension
Stretching helps to relieve tension in your soft tissues. Hold a muscle close to, or at, its end-point and unconscious holding patterns and tension starts to release. Its pretty amazing how the body does it physiologically, but in a nutshell, stretching tells your brain that its safe for the muscle to release and lengthen. The safer your brain thinks you are, the less tension your body will hold.
3. Injury prevention and repair
If your muscles are appropriately lengthened and relaxed, they will have less likelihood of strain or other injury. There is evidence to support that stretching increases circulation via the blood vessels. When there is better blood flow to the muscle tissue, the muscle cells can more easily release metabolic waste and take in fresh nutrition. Fresh nutrition is what will provide your muscle cells adequate energy for activity and provide the building blocks for muscle repair.
4. Correct poor posture
Chronically shortened muscles will pull your body all out of whack, literally. One of the most frequent comments massage therapists’ hear from clients is that they feel taller after a session. Well, that’s because they probably are. Stretching soft tissues helps return them to an appropriate length, and that is one of the first steps in correcting poor posture.
5. Develops body awareness
A muscle that is at its end-feel, is a muscle that you can easily feel. That gentle stinging or discomfort that accompanies stretching makes you feel the muscle under tension. When this happens, the brain uses proprioceptor stimulation to begin to “see” where that muscle is within relationship to the rest of your body. Over time, regular stretching practices helps the brain paint a detailed picture of your body.
6. It feels good
Duh. It might be slightly uncomfortable while you’re doing it but only uncomfortable in that “hurt-so-good” kind of way. The really good feels come when your done and your body is open and loose!