Reasons you may or may not think stretching is ESSENTIAL to your health

Stretching is often overlooked in health, wellness, and fitness. Most people want to become stronger, or increase their endurance but ignore flexibility. In order to become fit, stronger or faster you have to be able to move well! You also need to sustain those movements without leading to injury.

Whether you are an athlete or live a less active lifestyle, stretching is crucial for your muscles. By increasing your flexibility and mobility it can help you avoid muscle imbalances and prevent injuries.
If you’re active, you’re prone to developing tight muscles and in turn limited range of motion. This then results in joint pain, muscle strains, and chronic injuries.

If you are not very active, sitting at a desk or hunched over looking at your phone leads to tight muscles. Chest, back and hamstrings which make it more difficult to extend your leg while walking, getting dressed or other functional activities.

Your muscles contract throughout the day- that keeps happening over time and puts pressure on nerves and bones. Most people just live with nagging pain and tightness. When I am stretching clients I am relieving tension, not usually pain. Tension does subside in time after consistent stretching sessions, or self stretching.

SO MANY BENEFITS OF STRETCHING!!:

1. Flexibility- without stretching or flexibility to maintain range of motion, the muscles shorten and become tight. When we need them for activity they are weak and unable to extend.

2.Posture- poor posture causes chest muscles to shorten and tighten, back muscles lengthen and weaken. This “ hunched” posture affects your blood flow and nerves.

3. Injury prevention- there’s increased blood supply and oxygen to muscles and joints allowing greater nutrient transportation and improves circulation of blood throughout the body.

4. Improves sleep- it activates your parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your rest and digestive functions.

5. Increased energy- increased blood flow and circulation to the extremities leads to higher energy levels.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SEE RESULTS:

Studies saw significant increase in flexibility in one month, and showed changes after only 3 weeks! They also found that consistency is more important than the number of weekly sessions.
It does take discipline!

If you wanted to get stronger- you would do strength training or lift weights.
If you want to improve your endurance- you might start walking ,biking or running.
Flexibility is no different, we can’t expect to improve it by tacking on 5 minutes of stretching after a workout.
It needs the attention to see results to carry over to the rest of your life!

As we get older we actually end up with less range of motion because we do less. We also spend more time sitting down.

The time spent sitting tells your body it only needs to work in a limited range, that the hips only ever need to be roughly at 90 degrees and it’s normal for the hip flexors and low back to become tight and limited, the upper body to hunch and the shoulders to round. You get “good at” that poor posture. Your muscles naturally tighten up to protect yourself from damage.

This posture causes your chest, pectoral and bicep muscles to shorten and tighten. This also puts pressure on your posterior( back) muscles. This poses a negative effect on your neck and upper back causing tension headaches.

Range of motion or flexibility and strengthening exercises are key to improving posture!!
This can be difficult for some because we need to spend the time overcoming all the damage we have already done from years of sitting!