Stretching: What It Is, Health Benefits, and Getting Started

What the different types of stretches have in common is that they help lengthen the muscles of the body and keep them (and therefore you) mobile, according to ACE.

Some health benefits of stretching are:

  • More flexibility
  • Improved mobility
  • Better range of motion
  • Less risk of injury
  • healthy aging

Stretching increases muscle flexibility, which is needed to maintain a healthy range of motion in joints, according to Harvard Medical School. Flexibility may sound similar to mobility, but they are different in that flexibility is the ability of soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments) to stretch without assistance, while mobility is the ability of the joint (where two bones connect) to move. through his full range of motion, according to the International Sports Science Association.

It’s important to work on your mobility and flexibility if you sit a lot during the day, or even if you don’t lead a sedentary lifestyle. Even when standing, many of us tend to limit ourselves to a narrow range of motion, relying heavily on certain muscles and not involving others at all. When we stick to a handful of positions, it puts extra strain on certain muscles and can throw our muscles, bones, and joints out of alignment.

“When our muscles, bones and joints are not in the right place, we have to put extra tension in certain areas to accommodate that,” says Galliett. An example is lower back tightness.

“Often the lower back can feel very tight because our body is not in an optimal position to support our skeletal structure: our head is a bit forward, maybe our rib cage and pelvis are tilted too far. forward, and so all of our weight is leaning forward,” Galliett says. Something has to hold you in that position, and the lower back often ends up taking on the weight of that work, instead of dispersing those efforts on your hamstrings, glutes, abdominal muscles and the rest of your body.

Stretching the soft tissues of the back, legs, hamstrings, and hip flexors can improve spine joint range of motion, which helps relieve back pain, according to a review published in June 2016 in the review. Health care.

The flexibility also allows freedom of movement, which is helpful during everyday activities such as bending over to tie shoes, vacuuming and lifting groceries. According to the NASM, these activities can become more challenging as we age, making flexibility training important for healthy aging. It can also help you avoid injuries you may sustain from performing an activity that you don’t have the proper mobility and flexibility to do safely.

Mobility and flexibility work also prevents injury during exercise and improves your ability to exercise.

Dynamic stretches, for example, are useful for warming up and stretching the muscles you intend to use during exercise. “An easy way to challenge your quad muscle is to run and kick a soccer ball as hard as you can,” says Williams Roberts, MD, director of the sports medicine program in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the ‘hospital. University of Minnesota School of Medicine in Minneapolis.

The same can happen if you sprint at full speed on cold legs. Warming up first with dynamic stretches (such as lunges, squats, or leg or arm circles) helps begin to gently lengthen the muscles; so that at the end of your warm-up, your muscles are ready to be used to the maximum. (Remember to stick to dynamic stretching when warming up and keep static stretching to cool down after a workout; overstretching a muscle that hasn’t been warmed up during a static stretch may expose it to a similar risk of overuse.)

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