We’ve all heard about the importance of exercise. But stretching is a side of physical activity that is often overlooked. Stretching isn’t just for athletes: anyone, at any age, can benefit. Here are a few of the reasons to incorporate stretching into your daily life.
Most of us have experienced the tightness and pain of a strained muscle, as well as the relief that stretching can bring. But stretching can also help prevent those strains in the first place, by improving flexibility and muscle health overall. Tight muscles that have the unexpected demand of exercise, like running, hiking, or playing recreational sports after a long period of inactivity, can be easily injured. Keeping them loose lets muscles act like an elastic band when you use them, rather than pulling apart in injury.
When your muscles are too tight, your joints can’t bend and extend as far as they’re meant to. And when you start to lose that range of motion, it can be harder to get it back again. By stretching, you’re allowing your muscles to support your joints to move as much as they can, increasing mobility.
For all the student athletes, weekend skiers, and summer hikers out there, from beginners on up, stretching can help for improve your athletic performance. All those flexibility, joint-supporting, and muscle health benefits can help you do better, whether you’re competitive or just there to have fun.
Stretching helps promote healthy muscles. And muscles that are healthy and strong provide support in all of life’s tasks, from bending and stooping to lifting and climbing. By stretching, you can improve muscle health, which in turn can help your balance and keep you from falling.
Some research indicates that stretching can lead to better blood flow and less stiff arteries. That helps your blood deliver oxygen throughout your body. And that may even mean lower blood pressure. That could help protect against certain diseases, like stroke and heart disease, and potentially diabetes too. Because of this, stretching can be a great alternative for people who aren’t able to exercise in other ways.
You can’t be too young or too old to start stretching. Kids playing sports should be doing it, and adults hoping to retain mobility and joint strength into their golden years can benefit as well. By stretching every day now, you can help set yourself up for future health.
It’s best to avoid stretching cold muscles, so consider a warmup, like a walk or jog, first. It’s important to not bounce deeper into the stretch. Experts recommend frequent but brief stretching sessions, as little as a few minutes daily. You should feel some resistance as you stretch, but it shouldn’t cause you pain. If it hurts, stop right away and talk to your provider about your experience.
If you’re dealing with a healing injury or you’re just not sure where to start with stretching, get in touch with a CHP clinic. An appointment with a healthcare pro can help set you up for success. And with a sliding payment scale and assistance accessing programs to help cover costs, you can find your way to affordable healthcare.