Your cat does it, your dog does it, and your yoga-obsessed neighbour does it, too. Sure, stretching is the most important thing you can do for your body before and after a workout for obvious reasons, but did you know it’s got a whole heap of other unique benefits as well? Both physically and mentally, stretching can actually improve your overall health in a plethora of ways. And the best part? All you need is a few minutes each day to get your body activated: whether stretching on your lunch break or a few minutes on the couch before your Netflix-binge. So, what are you waiting for? Here are 5 health benefits of stretching every single day.
Know your stretches
There’s a whole heap of different types of stretching; think dynamic, static, passive, ballistic and more. Dynamic and static stretches are the two main types you want to focus on.
Static stretching is your basic 101 stretching. It’s pretty much what a lot of people think of when they think of the term “stretching”. This is holding a position that goes just past your comfort zone for about 20-30 seconds and repeating it two to three times. Remember the golden rule: stretching should never be forced!
Dynamic stretching is often done before exercise. Done correctly, dynamic stretches warm up muscles and lubricate joints.
It’s a literal refresh button
Who would have thought that there is another way to “wake up” your body without caffeine! Just a few minutes of stretching in the morning can improve blood circulation throughout your body - including your brain. Focus on starting a “stretching routine” each morning for 5 minutes, and you’ll notice a difference within the first few weeks. Not only will your loosen those muscles after a night’s rest, but you’ll feel more alert and of course, refreshed! Need some help? Our app includes all the necessary daily stretches, durations and descriptions.
When it comes to exercise, dynamic stretches are recommended at the beginning, while the static stretches are best towards the end of your workout to cool down. If you are exercising every day, make sure you don’t miss either! When you do stretch, your muscles and joints are activated to help you respond more effectively to your exercises (and get the most out of them), while cooling down relaxes your body and eliminates pressure and the chance of injury. Stretching every day improves your range of motion. Being able to move a joint through its full range of motion gives you more freedom of movement and avoid injury.
It lowers glucose levels
A study done by the US National Library of Medicine found that just 20 minutes of stretching can lower glucose levels. How? A 2011 study of adults who had type 2 diabetes or were prediabetic found that those who stretched for 40 minutes after drinking a sugary beverage had lower blood sugar levels than those who didn’t stretch! In short: a combination of exercise and stretching can help keep your glucose levels in check. So, what are you waiting for?
It improves circulation
Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Not only does this help post-workout soreness and shorten recovery time, but it improves your overall health. How? Blood flowing to your muscles helps repair muscle tissue by getting rid of waste byproducts, which eliminates the time takes for your muscles to repaid themselves #yay! Increased blood flow also helps promote cell growth, keeps your blood pressure regulated and lowers the heart rate. Win, win all round.
It relieves stress
Fact: Incorporating stretching into your daily routine is just as important to your health and body functioning as regular exercise. Even if you’re a regular gym-goer, stretching can help ease muscle tension. Although, when we are stressed, it’s natural for our muscles to tense up. The slow, calculated movement of stretching is calming to the mind, improves elasticity and mobility, which helps your muscles relax. However, like all other exercises, stretching too has its limits. Do not overdo it, if your stretch is hurting you, change positions.