We hear so much about the benefits of exercise that many of us underestimate the importance of stretching. Often thought of as part of a warm-up or cool down to prevent injury and release lactic acid, it is so much more. Here are a few ways to stretch your way to better health.
Whether you are stressed to the max, have just come off a long flight, or your muscles have built up a lot of tension from sitting or standing all day—stretching can help. If this tension is not released it can lead to pain, inflammation, trouble sleeping, and chronic muscle, joint, and tendon fatigue.
Both whole-body and targeted stretching can take things down a notch. Not to worry if you aren’t sure what stretches to do. Just type your stretching goal into YouTube and you’ll find countless videos to choose from.
Stretching can be both proactive and reactive, and part of a larger wellness plan for your mind, body, and spirit. Also, consider Epsom salt bath, steam, massage, yoga, meditation, and CBD to calm your mind and body.
Minimize Repetitive Motion Pain
Typing on your laptop, texting on your phone, gaming, playing a musical instrument, or playing sports are all activities that require repetitive motion. Resting overused muscles may be required but you can also work with a physical therapist to learn a few stretches. These are often done to counter stretch and strengthen supportive muscles with mini-exercises. For example, clenching and releasing your fists to stretch and train the muscles in your hand and forearm. Ice can help when inflammation is high, and heat is advised for chronic pain.
While exercise and activities that get your heart, pumping are still suggested for heart and whole-body health, a recent study on passive stretching has some interesting findings. Passive stretching is any type of stretching that uses resistance to gently stretch. This could be your body weight, gravity, a fitness band, or a stretching tool.
A small study out of Milan showed that after 12 weeks stretching just the legs 5 times per week improved blood flow, decreased blood pressure, and improved overall vascular function. The study was small, with 39 men and women split into two groups.
As we age, stretching also helps us maintain our mobility and balance. So, even if you don’t have time to work out, take a few minutes to stretch each day. Just be gentle when you stretch. If you push to hard you can pull or overstretch your muscles and joints, which can create pain and injury.