We all know it is good to stretch before and after exercising, but there are benefits to stretching daily just as a healthy habit. Our bodies are constantly responding to what is being thrown at them – workouts, stress, sitting too long and so much more. All these things can have an impact on your body. Let’s discuss the benefits of stretching and why we should all incorporate more into our daily routine.

What are the Benefits? 

It’s safe to say that we all deal with a certain level of stress. Whether its work related, family related, or one of a score of other reasons, stress is a very real factor in our lives. Some have more than others. Stretching, while it may not relieve the source of stress, can be a method to cope with it better. Stretching is a mechanism that allows you to bring relief to tight muscles while focusing and bringing a positive intentionality to slow down and breathe. Through doing this your heart rate slows down and a sense of calm can be found. And who couldn’t use more calm in today’s hectic world?

Increased flexibility is one of the biggest reasons stretching is encouraged by coaches, physical therapists and many more who advocate for it. Muscles can be tight. Joints can have limited range. These two things can lead to injury. Stretching helps improve range of mobility and brings about an increase in blood flow leading to better performance in our daily activities, workouts, and athletic challenges.

One study found that stretching can lead to better posture. Having poor posture can cause numerous issues. One of the most prominent is back pain. By focused stretching and strengthening of certain muscle groups, one can find a reduction in pain and overall better alignment. These in combination can lead to better posture.

Techniques: How to Stretch for the Most Gain

When stretching, there are certain techniques to help your practice be more beneficial and safer. If you aren’t one who stretches often, start slow and don’t force yourself into anything. The old saying “no pain, no gain” doesn’t apply here. Pain indicates you have probably gone too far, and you need to pull back some. You want to hold your stretches to allow time for it to do what you’re trying to accomplish. 10 to 30 seconds is recommended. No bouncing, as it can cause more harm than good. Last, but not least, be sure to stretch both sides of your body to ensure a balanced effect.

It should be said that if one starts a stretching routine and notices pain or the stretching is not aiding with muscle tightness, your physical therapist can help. Through manual therapy and other types of treatment, pain relief and less tightness can be achieved.