The health benefits of stretching go well beyond improving flexibility and looser, more limber, and longer muscles.
Being more flexible gives you more stamina, allows for increased physical output and performance and because you use less energy, you’re saving it for other more important tasks. Regular stretching increases your overall energy levels and makes you more alert by increasing the circulation of blood and amount of oxygen, minerals, and proteins flowing to your muscles and increasing production of beneficial neurochemicals. Muscles can work harder and longer as muscle fatigue is reduced so you move faster and lift more.
Stretching reduces the risk of injury as tight muscles have trouble achieving their full range of motion which can cause you to pull or tear a muscle. Increased blood flow also decreases recovery time after a workout because more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the muscles.
Increased circulation also helps your organs function better and more efficiently which means lower blood pressure and resting heart rate and reduced levels of bad cholesterol in your veins and arteries. Studies have shown that a 40 minute stretch lowers blood sugar levels by 26%. The Journal of Medical Science recently reported that stretching may be the “new exercise paradigm for cardiovascular medicine” describing it is a novel and alternative low intensity, therapeutic intervention capable of improving several parameters of vascular function.
Stretching also makes you feel happier by increasing the brain’s production of endorphins and neurochemicals such as serotonin, helping with depression and anxiety. Increased physical performance also makes you feel happier and more confident which tends to make you eat better and look after yourself more.
Particularly important as we age, and for conditions like Parkinson’s and MS, stretching is great for your balance by improving fine muscle coordination and increasing the reaction time of your proprioceptors that cause your balance to shift weight.
Stretching has advantages for specific sports people. For golfers for example, a compact powerful swing is dependent on the relationship of shoulder and hip rotation and we have a number of very excited clients who find it greatly improves their game. Stiff shoulders, tight hips and hamstrings impact your ability to perfect your swing. For cyclists, stretching helps improve range of motion to ride efficiently and generate more power. And there are obvious benefits for runners, walkers and a whole range of other forms of physical exercise.
And appealing to our sense of vanity, tight muscles can cause your back to hunch and limit mobility, which affects your walk. Stretching improves your posture by keeping your whole body in its natural position and your spine in proper alignment.
Stretch Studios clients book by the Stretch S app, phone or drop by for a 20 minute, 30, 40, 50 or 60 minute assisted stretch, a form of static stretching in which a ‘flexologist’ (professional assisted stretcher) exerts gentle force upon the limb to move it into a new position, holding for a specific amount of time to lengthen and stretch the muscle fibre and tissue. Stretch studios is open Monday to Friday 8am-7pm, Saturday 8am-4pm, Sunday 10am-3pm