Stretching can improve posture, decrease muscle soreness, improve range of motion, increase blood flow to your muscles, and help prevent injury.
Daily stretching is required to keep our muscles healthy and strong. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage (health.harvard.edu).
Our muscles are always working, even if we aren’t moving. When we sit all day, we are constantly contracting (tightening) our hip flexor complex. When those are tight they pull on our lower back, causing us pain.
If we don’t stretch the muscles that are over worked and tight, they will continue to cause us pain and increase our chance of injury.
Stretching has different forms and each form has a purpose. Two of the most common stretches are dynamic and static stretching.
Dynamic stretching is best when warming up before a workout. This type of stretch involves active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion, which increases blood flow.
Static Stretching is best after a workout. This type of stretching involves holding your position for up to 30 seconds, allowing your muscles to loosen up while increasing flexibility and range of motion.
To keep your stretches safe and effective, keep these tips in mind.
- Don’t stretch beyond what’s comfortable. A slight degree of discomfort is normal, but you shouldn’t feel any pain while you’re stretching. Stop right away if you feel sharp pain.
- Be gentle. Use smooth, slow movements. Avoid jerking or bouncing movements while you’re holding a stretch. Be extra cautious if you’re recovering from an injury.
- Don’t forget to breathe. Breathing can help relieve stress and tension in your body, and may also help you hold a stretch for longer.
- Start slowly. Start with just a few stretches at first, and add more repetitions and stretches as you build your flexibility.
Set a reminder to stretch every day!
For stretching videos, check out our fitness video collection!