Healthcare tips

Stretching to a Healthier You

February 28, 2024

A healthy life is all about balance — from diet to self-care and even your workout routine! While health-conscious folks know to include cardio and strength training in their activities, stretching is often overlooked among more rigorous workout routines even though it’s essential to maintaining a healthy and resilient body. 

The benefits of a flexible body extend far beyond gymnastics or yoga studios. Improving your flexibility can extend your range of motion, prevent injuries, and foster a more agile and resilient body. Let’s explore the many ways stretching can improve your overall health and well-being — but remember to always consult your doctor before making any changes to your fitness routine. 

The Benefits of Stretching

Adding stretching to your routine has many benefits. Below, we’ll explore a few of the key areas in which stretching can improve your health.

Stretching for Flexibility 

Adding stretching to your routine has many benefits. The primary and most obvious benefit of stretching is its impact on flexibility. Regular stretching can help improve the range of motion in your joints and muscles, making everyday activities smoother. 

Especially for many of us who spend our days hunched over a computer, daily stretching can help lengthen tight muscles, allowing your body to maintain a more upright posture.

Stretching for Injury Prevention

Another great reason to stretch is to prevent injury. Flexible muscles and tendons are less prone to strain and sprains. Regular stretching creates a more resilient body that can withstand the stresses of daily life and physical activity. 

It’s important to incorporate stretching into the front end and back end of your workouts to maximize its benefit. Consider adding dynamic stretches as a warm-up before you begin your exercises and then static stretching to the ends of your workouts to loosen muscles and prevent injuries or even potentially speed up recovery times.

  • Dynamic Stretches: Dynamic stretches are a form of stretching where you move your muscles and joints through a range of continuous motion in a controlled, deliberate manner. They can help to increase blood flow to the muscles, improve flexibility, and prepare the body for more intense movements.
  • Static Stretches: Static stretches are a form of stretching where you hold a particular position, typically for around 15-30 seconds, without moving. During static stretches, you gently elongate the muscle being targeted until you feel a slight tension or stretch, but not to the point of discomfort or pain. These stretches are commonly performed after a workout or physical activity and can improve flexibility, increase the range of motion in joints, and reduce the risk of injury.

Stretching for Improved Circulation

Blood circulation can also be improved with stretching. Stretching stimulates blood flow throughout the body, aiding in the efficient transport of oxygen and nutrients to cells. Improved circulation not only can contribute to better overall health but also can support the body's ability to recover from injuries. 

Tips for Getting Started with Stretching

Here are the top tips for stretching to get you started on the right foot!

  1. Stretching can be done with little to no equipment, but you may consider stretching aids like bands. 
  2. It’s best done when your body is already a little warm. You can do light exercise for 10 minutes before you stretch to warm up or do your stretching after your regular workout. 
  3. Keep stretches gentle and keep breathing steadily while stretching. 
  4. Stretch until you feel a slight pull then hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and then repeat the stretch on both sides of your body 2 to 4 times. 
  5. Aim to stretch 2 to 3 days a week. 
  6. As always, talk to a healthcare professional or physical therapist about which stretches are right for you.

Stretching isn’t just for folks looking to do the splits: it’s an essential component to keeping your body healthy and maximizing the work you put into staying in shape! Before you begin your stretching journey, be sure to discuss what’s appropriate and safe for your unique needs with a healthcare professional.

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