We all hear all the time that stretching is important, but do you really understand the benefits? When you’re time poor, there might be a strong temptation to skip the stretching in order to spend more time on cardio, thinking thats the best use of your time. Don’t. Whether you’ve got a CrossFit WOD, fitness class or a rest day planned, daily stretching is a healthy habit that really pays dividends. Here are 7 of the top perks it may bring:
If you’re normally spent by mid afternoon, a stretch break will invigorate you in less time than it would take you to visit the vending machine for a caffeine fix. A few minutes spent stretching will increase blood flow through your entire body. Increased blood flow reduces sluggishness and helps you feel more alert.
Research points to the fact that stretching could help with fine muscle co-ordination. This means people who stretch regularly can avoid those stumbles we all have occasionally as the body makes small balance adjustments more easily.
Suffer from stiff muscles? Creaky or crunching joints? Regular stretching can help, but you have to do the right kind of stretching to help these issues. All of the latest research shows to avoid the static stretch. It’s all about the ‘range of motion’ exercises, such as knee lifts and shoulder shrugs and foam rolling.
All my clients know I am obsessed with correct form (a well performed squat is one of my favourite things!). Flexibility may not be at the top of your goals list but improving flexibility via regular stretching can improve your form. Improving your form means you get more from your workouts.
*- the scientific evidence on this one is sketchy but it makes good sense! Preparing the body for exercise has always been good advice. We all know that you never stretch cold muscles so adding some dynamic stretching into your warm up routine helps get your body ready for exercise and switches your brain on to your workout. Adding such a routine can’t completely eliminate injury but it will help bring focus, making you more aware throughout your workout.
You know the feeling. You’re sat at your desk and your shoulders are up by your ears. You’re in the workshop and your back feels like a knot. A stretch break and/or a daily stretch routine can help reduce that tension by relieving the tightness in the muscles. This in turn will help you feel more relaxed, both physically and mentally. Be careful to not overdo a particular stretch. Stretching must never be forced, you should relax into it. Remember, if you cause yourself pain, you are doing it wrong.
Regular workouts are well documented for helping keep glucose levels under control. The great news is that for those in the at-risk population, the benefits can be reaped by a daily dose of stretching. A 2011 study found that adults with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes lowered their blood sugar levels via passive stretching.
Link: Read physiotherapy study