Almost everybody knows that physical activity and exercise are very important. But, what a lot of people don’t know is how important stretching is. There are five components of physical fitness, and flexibility is one of them, with the other four being cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and a healthy body.
A stretching program can help bring alignment to the joints of your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. When the body is properly aligned mobility is increased and inflammation of the joints is reduced. Stretching consistently can improve range of motion, help relieve stiffness and muscle aches, help prevent injuries, and help improve structural problems.
A stretching routine has many benefits to it. Besides increased flexibility, stretching helps improves circulation and blood flow, align the body, relaxes and relieves stress, increases oxygen flow, enhances coordination, and helps relieve pain.
When stretching or starting a stretching routine its always good to consult with an expect first. But, some general tips to keep in mind while stretching would be:
- Wear comfortable clothing that won’t constrict movements
- Don’t force your body info difficult or painful positions – stretching should be pain free
- Move into a stretch slowly and avoid bouncing
- Hold stretches between 15 to 30 seconds to adequately lengthen and improve range of motion
- Stretch on a clean, flat surface that is large enough to move freely
- Repeat a stretch between 2 and 5 times
Another thing to remember is to get into a routine of stretching after you exercise. Stretching after a workout will assist in your body releasing lactic acid from muscle cells faster. Stretching increases blood flow and improves circulation which helps the muscles heal quicker as well. Stretching after exercise helps with soreness too, as you are less likely to get sore if you stretch.
The most important thing to remember when stretching or doing any form of exercise is to listen to your body. What works for one person may not be the right avenue for the next person. Stretching, like any exercise also takes time to see a difference. Keep working towards your goal one day at a time and seek help when necessary.