Top ten reasons to stretch daily
Stretching is a massively overlooked component of fitness, which commonly gets a half-hearted 5 minutes at the end of a workout, if that! But really, we should all be devoting more time to it, on a daily basis, and now with active isolated stretching you can get a professional doing it for you! carefully and accurately assessing all you muscles, and working them gently until the fine balance in your body is restored and your pain is gone.
Flexibility is one of the 5 components of fitness (the others are cardiovascular fitness; muscular strength; muscular endurance and body composition). These 5 components together make a fit and healthy individual. Flexibility is the range of motion at a joint or group of joints. There are a number of factors which can affect flexibility, but in a healthy joint, the most common factor is muscle elasticity. Stretching helps improve this for a complete fitness profile.
Stretching can help to prevent injuries in two ways. Firstly, stretching on a regular basis increases flexibility which can reduce injuries by improving movement patterns to prevent overuse injuries such as shin splints and runner’s knee. Secondly, stretching prior to exercise gets the muscles warm and pliable, making them less prone to injuries such as hamstring strains whilst competing.
Reduce post exercise aches / DOMS
Stretching after exercise is recommended to ease muscle aches and stiffness post exercise – often known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Stretching helps lengthen shortened muscle fibres and increase circulation for waste product removal and oxygen delivery.
Posture is the way we stand or sit. This is strongly affected by muscle strength and flexibility. For example, tight hip flexor muscles and weak gluteus cause an anterior pelvic tilt which can cause lower back pain. Similarly, tight chest muscles and weak upper back muscles cause rounded, protracted shoulders which can cause neck and shoulder pain. Stretching on a daily basis can help target muscles which commonly become short and tight due to prolonged positions such as desk work or driving.
Look good – increase confidence
Good posture leads on to looking good and feeling confident. Using the above examples, an anterior tilt causes the bum and tummy to stick out! Correcting this can make you look slimmer! Rounded shoulders and a forward head posture makes you look a little hump-backed! Pulling the shoulders and chin back and pushing the chest out makes you look taller and more confident!
Stretching is great for relaxation and stress relief. Pilates, Yoga and Tai Chi are all popular as relaxing forms of exercise and contain a high proportion of stretching. A morning and evening stretching routine gets you set for the day ahead and helps you wind down at the end of it!
Stretching can help improve athletic or sporting performance. Some sports clearly require a good level of flexibility (take gymnastics and ballet for example) and whilst some sports are less clear, flexibility is advantageous in all sports. Flexibility improves posture and so movement patterns, which in turn helps us to move more effectively and efficiently. Flexibility is required to generate speed and power too.
Flexibility increases the circulation of blood to the muscles and all the benefits this entails. A tight muscle has a lower blood flow as the muscle fibres constrict the blood vessels. A more flexible muscle allows a greater blood flow which increases oxygen supply for energy production. It also helps remove the by-products of metabolism – Carbon Dioxide and Lactic acid.
Prepare for exercise
Stretching can help you to prepare for exercise, both physically and mentally. As well as a thorough warm-up to help reduce the risk of injury and improve performance, stretching can help you to prepare psychologically and help you to focus on your body and heighten your sense of positioning and awareness ready to perform at your peak!
Avoid forgetting / Running out of time
Stretching is something that many people leave to the end of a workout and then either run out of time or can’t be bothered to do! Scheduling two 5-10 minute stretching sessions into your day, first thing in the morning and later on in the day means you are less likely to forget to do it or run out of time after your workout. Plus, it means you will do it twice every day, rather than once every time you train.
If that’s not enough reason to stretch, I don’t know what is!