Flexibility is often overlooked, and being a driver on the road makes it even more important that you get stretches in regularly. The American Council has outlined 10 reasons to stretch regularly, so I thought we could take a look together!
Stress naturally causes muscle tightness and tension. Getting a good stretch, combined with mindful breathing can help the brain, hormones (such as cortisol levels) and relax the mind. Stretching can be a big help in this area!
Reduced pain and stiffness
Tight muscles typically cause aches and pains throughout the body, even muscle cramps. This is because your muscles are literally “shorter.” Stretching lengthens the muscles, making them longer; which helps relieve aches, pains and muscle cramps.
Regularly stretching helps decrease heart rate, regulate proper breathing techniques, slow down stressful responses, reduce blood pressure and help relieve muscle tension. All of these equal a more relaxed and better functioning body.
Enhanced range of motion
With muscles shorter, range of motion becomes restricted, so stretching will help increase movement. This is especially important when reaching for something or turning abruptly. Range of motion is just like any other activity, so practicing and holding stretches will help increase your range of motion.
Improved muscular function
As a result of poor posture, sitting all day, improper body mechanics, repeated body movements and motions, your muscles become chronically tense and weaken. Stretching will help improve the function with each of these because you’re lengthening and training them properly how to respond to stress and allowing them to get stronger and more pliable again.
Reduced risk of injury
Think of your muscles, tendons, and tissues like a piece of elastic. If that elastic freezes or is hard, when you pull the piece to wrap around something, it will break. But if you warm up the elastic and slowly get it moving by stretching it out, it should do it’s job. Your body is the same way. Injuries happen when there is blunt forced trauma and going into activities without stretching puts you in a position for just that: an injury. Stretching, specifically dynamic stretching (stretching with movement), will help your body be warm and pliable to move freely with preventing the risk of injury.
When included as part of a fitness routine, stretching can help enhance speed, agility, power, and muscular strength. This is helpful even when walking up a flight of stairs!
Improved blood flow and circulation
Muscles and cells need blood and oxygen to work properly. If those get cut off then the muscle will deteriorate and die. It’s just like a plant needing nutrients. Stretching helps warm up those muscles and get the blood flowing, along with needed oxygen!
Minimized wear and tear on joints
Having strong and pliable muscles helps take pressure off of joints to do the work. This is especially helpful for back and knee pain sufferers. Not stretching and letting your muscles weaken will create unnecessary strain and difficulty on joints. Regularly stretching will help all these functions and get your muscles working for your joints!
Better quality of life
Although we age and change physically, stretching at any age will improve flexibility and better performance. Whether you are trying to get in and out of your truck or going for a gold medal, stretching helps give longevity and enhance any life!