Stretching opens up your range of motion and increases flexibility while not stretching drastically reduces mobility in the joints and muscles, which increases your risk for injury. Recent studies show that slow or static stretching – whether or not you exercise afterward – has a number of benefits, especially for older people. Regular stretching not only increases flexibility it also improves circulation. It helps promote better posture and helps relieve stress by relaxing tense muscles.
The thing is every muscle is connected. Not stretching will only increase tightness in the body, allowing muscles to pull on joints, causing major pain. You don’t need a lot of time to stretch. Give yourself five to 10 minutes every day to open your muscles. If you find stretching boring, you might want to try stretching first thing in the morning, while you’re still in bed and not fully awake. While lying down, bend one leg and cross your other ankle at the knee, and then grab underneath your bent leg and push your elbow into the thigh of the opposite leg until you feel a stretch in your butt. Also, open up your arms by trying to reach as far and wide as possible.
One thing to keep in mind while stretching is that it has to be a pain-free stretch. You can expect to feel a little tension when you’re stretching. But if it hurts, you have gone too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch. And when you stretch, hold each stretch for 20 to 60 seconds and repeat three times. Don’t bounce while stretching as it can tear muscles, which can lead to scar tissue, tight muscles, decreased flexibility and increased soreness. The Surya Namaskar is a really great way to stretch every muscle in your body. Start with five repetitions a day and then do more counts as it gets easier.
You can stretch anytime, anywhere — in your home, at work or when you’re traveling. But if you have a chronic condition or an injury, you may need to alter your approach. For example, if you have a strained muscle, stretching it as you usually do may cause further harm. Consult with a doctor or a physical therapist about the best way for you to stretch. Alternatively, you could also sign up for a yoga or tai chi class that are basically all about stretching.