10 Reasons To Include Stretching Into Your Program
Stretching is one of those activities that is often thrown in at the end of a workout as an after thought or a well intentioned consideration that gets relegated to the ‘later pile of activities’ due to lack of time. Yoga has its place and has a great variety of both strength and flexibility benefits, but what if the thought of a full yoga class sends chills down your spin? What if you are not quite ready to take on even a beginner Yoga class because youre just not ‘bendy enough’ yet. As a yoga teacher, I can tell you that the ‘Im not flexible enough yet’ is simply a way of saying ‘I am not mentally prepared to be that vulnerable in a room full of people doing something I find really hard.‘ You know what, that is totally fine, there are ways to ease into a stretching program. You may also find that Yoga is not for you and you prefer a slightly different approach to stretching your body, that is also totally fine.
The key point is that you stretch, for men as they age it is really important to maintain a flexibility regimen, just as it is a strength program for women, as they age. Stretching is for everyone and keeps the spine young, the jints healthy and has other benefits for the mind and body, let’s take a look.
Top 10 Reasons for why you should always take the time to stretch:
1. Decreases muscle stiffness and increases range of motion. Stretching helps improve your range of motion, which may also slow the degeneration of your joints.
2. May reduce your risk of injury. A flexible muscle is less likely to become injured if you have to make a sudden move. By increasing the range of motion in a particular joint through stretching, you can decrease the resistance on your body’s muscles during various activities.
3. Helps relieve post-exercise aches and pains. After a hard workout, stretching your muscles helps keep them loose and lessens the shortening and tightening effect that can lead to post-workout aches and pains.
4. Improves posture. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, shoulders and chest helps keep your back in better alignment and improves your posture.
5. Helps reduce or manage stress. Well-stretched muscles hold less tension and, therefore, can help you feel less stressed. Breath awareness as you stretch also helps to reduce mental tension, encourage clarity and regulate the pre-frontal cortex in the brain which helps with problem solving and motivation.
6. Reduces muscular tension and enhances muscular relaxation. Chronically tense muscles tend to cut off their own circulation, resulting in a lack of oxygen and essential nutrients. Stretching allows your muscles to relax.
7. Improves mechanical efficiency and overall functional performance. Because a flexible joint requires less energy to move through a wider range of motion, a flexible body improves overall performance by creating more energy-efficient movements.
8. Prepares the body for the stress of exercise. Dynamic Stretching prior to exercise allows your muscles to loosen up and become better able to withstand the impact of the activity you choose to do. Passive stretching post exercise helps recovery management.
9. Promotes circulation. Stretching increases blood supply to your muscles and joints, which allows for greater nutrient transportation and improves the circulation of blood through your entire body.
10. Decreases the risk of low-back pain. Flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors and muscles attached to the pelvis relieves stress on the lumbar spine, which in turn reduces your risk of low-back pain.