If you take a good, hard look at your day, you will find that you spend a lot of time sitting, mostly in front of your TV, computer, or with your cell phone. The human body, over thousands of years of evolution, has been designed to be physically active.
Technology has made life convenient but it has also made your life sedentary. This is why stretching has become so important. Stretching activates your muscles and helps you to reduce stiffness. Even if you go to the gym regularly, stretching can help your muscles in many different ways. Here are 5 ways stretching can benefit your health.
1. To Flex Your Thoracic Spine
The thoracic spine is made up of twelve vertebrae that form the upper to the middle back. If you drive for long hours, sit all day at your desk, or just stay in one place for a few hours, your thoracic spine may become stiff and less flexible. This could lead to problems in other parts of your body like your neck, shoulders, and chest. Simple rotational stretches throughout the day can help keep your spine flexible and active.
2. For Stronger Glutes
For most people, work means being at a desk for 8 hours. Sitting for long periods of time can be tough on your glutes because the nerves that activate glutes shut down after a short period. This can cause the glute muscles to atrophy, a process by which muscles begin to degenerate due to lack of use. To keep your glutes active, you can start by getting up and doing exercises that stretch your glutes and hip flexors. Even if you’re not a regular exerciser, stretching can help avoid future injuries.
3. For Good Posture And Better Circulation
Stretching is often overlooked because it does not produce visible results like how lifting weights and squatting do. However, stretching has lasting benefits as it contributes to better posture and reduces aches and pains. Stretching also increases blood flow to the muscles while promoting cell growth and organ function. Better circulation also means a healthier brain and clarity of thought.
4. To Make Your Workouts Better
If you’re someone who works out regularly, stretching can work wonders for you. Weight training shortens your muscle length and can make your muscles feel tight. People who do strength training also complain about muscle soreness which usually happens when a muscle is overworked. The best way to avoid these issues is to stretch the muscles you worked on after you have finished your workout.
5. To Increase Stamina
Stretching can be a great way to improve your stamina especially if you’re involved in endurance sports like running and swimming. When you exercise your muscles for a long time, fatigue sets in. Fatigue impacts your physical performance and if you’re running a marathon, performing at your peak with the least possible fatigue means you cross the finish line faster. Stretching loosens your muscles and tendons, and supplies more blood so that they are relieved from fatigue and can perform for longer.
Tips To Get Started
- If you don’t have any medical condition, you can start stretching right away. When you start, don’t push yourself too hard. You may injure yourself. Hold the stretch where you feel some resistance but are also not in any kind of pain. Remember to be calm and breathe deeply.
- When you start, some stretches may seem impossible to do. Try to find alternatives like using padding or trying the same stretch in a seated position or lying down. Have patience, be regular, and start with small steps.
- Talk to yourself. When you’re stretching, you’re pushing your body outside its comfort zone and there’s bound to be some resistance. Your mind may tell you that it’s impossible but try to tell yourself that every day you stretch, you’re becoming a little more flexible.