Benefits Of Stretching
Article by: Shaun S O'Leary
Stretching is a basic instinct: the urge to oxygenate and lengthen our muscles is common to humans and all manner of mammals. It just feels good. However, what we do on a subconscious level often doesn't translate into something we make time for in our everyday lives. There are many benefits to stretching for both physical health and overall wellbeing.
It improves your circulation and moves blood around our muscles and joints, which results in more nutrients being delivered to our cells and more efficient removal of waste products. Increased blood flow also speeds up muscle recovery after exercise. This can also improve your energy levels.
Relief from back pain can be assisted by stretching. Stiff and tight muscles in the lower back, hamstrings, buttocks and hips are among the more common causes of lower back pain.
It can also improve your balance and co-ordination, making you less prone to accidents and making everyday tasks like tying your shoelaces easier.
Stretching can keep you younger longer. As we age our range of motion diminishes, so carrying out these exercises can help reverse this.
This relaxation method is a great form of stress relief: physically stretching relaxes the tense muscles often associated with stress.
However, if done inappropriately, it can also result in injury. Always warm up before stretching, try circling your arms slowly like windmills and flexing side to side from the hips before moving into full muscle length stretching.
Avoid locking your joints, elbows and knees should remain soft, not held rigid. Don't hold your breath when stretching. If you feel any pain, STOP. It should feel good.
There are many different kinds of exercises. Static stretching involves slowly easing into a stretching position and holding it for 10 to 30 seconds. Ballistic stretching uses the momentum of a moving body or a limb in an attempt to force it beyond its normal range of motion. Dynamic stretching refers to controlled leg and arm swings that take you gently to the limits of your range of motion. Assisted stretching refers to using a person or device (a towel, a strap, a Swiss ball) in order to maintain the position or help you ease into the position as the sensation of stretch subsides. Assistance devices can enable a deeper and increased range of motion than standard stretching. It also enables you to stretch muscles that are hard to extend otherwise, and stretching related
muscles can help build a strong 'support network' for your joints.
Assisted flexibility training results in greatly increased relaxation due to the additional support meaning you can concentrate on the feeling, positioning and depth of the stretch and maintaining that nice slow, deep breathing. As with all other methods of stretching, assisted stretching should not hurt. You should feel great afterwards, full of energy and strength.
(To find out more about the many benefits of stretching go here) Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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