Many people think of stretching as something that needs to be done before an athletic event. While this is true, stretching should be used for many different purposes. This includes for natural pain relief and to prevent injuries. Below is more about the different forms of stretching and a handful of benefits it offers.
What is Stretching?
Stretching is a type of exercise that extends a muscle or muscle group. This exercise helps muscles to stay flexible, something which can prevent injuries and joint damage. It also works to release muscle tension.
Is Stretching Safe?
Yes, stretching is generally safe and offers people numerous benefits. However, there are a few times when you should not do so. This includes:
- You recently injured yourself
- You have intense muscle knots
- You had surgery done
You should also make sure to never stretch cold muscles. Cold muscles are usually very tight. If you immediately start stretching them without letting them warm up, it can cause tears in tendons. Because of this, always try to get your muscles prepared for stretching by walking around a bit. This will increase your blood circulation so they warm up and are ready for stretching.
When stretching, make sure to do evenly on both sides. Asymmetrical stretching can leave one side weaker than the other, something which could lead to pain and injuries.
Types of Stretches
There are three main types of stretches: ballistic, dynamic, and static.
This type of stretching works to move a muscle beyond its normal range. It’s a bit more intense compared to other stretches and will require you to bounce your body in certain ways. An example of ballistic stretching is when you reach down to touch your toes and then quickly lift your body back up.
Dynamic stretching relies on various movements to stretch muscles. While similar to static, dynamic stretches aren’t held in place.
Static stretching is a simple type of stretch. To do this, you hold a single position for a few seconds and then release it. This type works to increase blood flow quickly and is commonly used before athletic competitions.
6 Benefits of Stretching
It Improves Flexibility
Stretching your body works with the nervous system to encourage it to extend your muscles. By doing so, it trains the muscles to correctly move, something which can improve your flexibility.
It also prevents your body’s pain receptors from shooting out warning messages of overextension. Stretching warms up muscles and helps to tell your body that it’s ready to move and rotate in ways it might not be used to.
It Encourages Proper Posture
Stretching helps to increase blood circulation in your spine. Because of this, it will awaken your brain and alert it to when it feels you slouching. This can encourage you to use proper posture so you don’t put strain on your spine.
By using correct posture, you’ll also find that your back won’t feel as tense. When you slouch, it makes back muscles contract, something which can lead to back pain.
It Helps with Stress Relief
By moving your body, it can release tension in it. This can help with relieving stress and calming your mind. This is why yoga stretches can be very beneficial with healing stress. By doing stretches such as the Easy Pose, Rabbit Pose, or Plow Pose, it can stop tension and even release endorphins.
It Can Prevent Injuries
Stretching works to improve your range of motion, something which can significantly prevent injuries. This is because stretching increases flexibility in your muscles and surrounding tendons. By doing so, it trains them to move in intense ways and build up endurance. This can significantly decrease your chances of injuring your body while on the move. However, if you already have an injury, stretching alone can no longer solve your problem. It would benefit to visit a chiropractor to help you recover from accident-related injuries.
It Can Lower Blood Sugar
Another interesting benefit of stretching is that it can lower blood sugar. In fact, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Physiotherapy found that after stretching for just twenty minutes, participants with Type 2 diabetes had a much lower glucose level from when they started.
It Increases Your Energy
Because stretching boosts blood circulation it can increase your energy. This will allow blood and important nutrients to quickly flow through your body so you feel motivated to move around. It can also release endorphins so you feel more positive while being active.
If you want to keep your body flexible or just want a natural way to reduce stress, definitely try stretching. It’s not only safe to do but can help to keep you healthy and free from pain.
Dr. Brent Wells founded Better Health Chiropractic in Alaska in 1998. He is currently leading 10,000 Alaskans to more active and pain-free lifestyles without drugs or invasive surgeries. He brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.