Most people know there are benefits to regular stretching, but they don't exactly know what those benefits might be or how they may be applicable to them. At Flexspace Studios, we teach a unique method designed to help people become better equipped to handle the physical demands of recreational activities such as dance, pole fitness, aerial arts, ice skating, rock climbing, martial arts, and more. Read on to find out more about why we think everyone should incorporate stretching into their everyday routine!
1) Stretching helps fix imbalances in the body
Our bodies were built to keep moving - not spend hours upon hours in awkward seated positions, as is the reality of a regular human in the Western world. A good combination of strengthening and stretching exercises can help reduce pain, encourage better alignment, correct postural imbalances, and help mitigate any other issues brought upon us by a (mostly) sedentary lifestyle
2) Stretching improves your range of motion
Regular stretching can help your muscles lengthen more than they normally would be able to, both in the short- and the long-term, allowing you to achieve greater range of motion in your joints. This can help you achieve greater performance in everyday activities as well as sports, dance, fitness, and any other movement-related pursuits. It can also help you reduce aging-related reductions in mobility.
3) Stretching helps you warm up towards and cool down after exercise
Stretching dynamically before a workout is a great way to wake up your nervous system and prepare your muscles for the type of exercise you are about to embark on. While stretching before a workout can have a slightly diminishing effect on your explosive power during the actual workout (short-distance runners, take note!), it will help virtually everyone increase their short-term flexibility, leading to access to a greater ROM with greater control while exercising.
If it is long-term flexibility you are after, we recommend stretching after your workout when your muscles are nice and warm. Stretching has also been shown to have a positive effect on blood circulation, which can reduce delayed muscle soreness (that dreaded burn the next day after an intense workout).
4) Stretching helps with stress relief
Having a stretching routine can help you mitigate both the physical and mental effects of stress. When we are experiencing stress, our muscles tend to tighten as a response. Different people hold stress in different parts of their body, with neck, shoulders, back, and hips being the most common. The more stress you experience, the "tighter" you can feel. Stretching can help you release the feeling of muscle tightness, undoing some of the chronic effects stress is having on your wellbeing.
Practicing mindfulness while stretching can also be extremely beneficial for your mental health. The next time you stretch, try to align your breathing to your movement, practice holding your stretches for a certain number of counts, and draw your attention to places you are feeling the stretch, allowing yourself to go deeper at every opportunity without ever taking your body to a place of pain (mild to medium discomfort is okay).
5) Stretching feels GOOD!
Stretching, like any physical activity, increases the production of endorphins, the neurotransmitters in the brain that can elevate mood and alleviate pain. When endorphins get released, they act as your body's reward system, making you feel accomplished and improving your self-image. The next time you are feeling down, get up and take 5 minutes to stretch: your body and brain will thank you!
Happy stretching, everyone!
Find out more about Flexspace studios and the programs they offer here.