When was the last time you stretched? And no, holding on to a park tree attempting a quickie-quad stretch before your run doesn’t count. Seriously though, when was the last time you rewarded your body with a relaxing, stretch session in the evening? As a former athlete, I have experienced the amazing benefits stretching can have on the body, the obvious benefit being increased flexibility. But there’s more to stretching than being able to touch your toes.
Stretching is incredibly relaxing, making it a perfect thing to do just before bedtime. If you find it hard to wind down after a busy day or you’re struggling to fall asleep, take a bubble bath to help relax your muscles and set aside 20 minutes for some gentle stretching before you turn the lights out.
TRY: Cat Stretch
Proper digestion is critical to staying healthy. Poor digestion can cause many aggravating problems. Stretching can be used as an effective, non-invasive way to get those intestinal muscles in gear and kickstart your digestion. By stretching out your stomach, you release any accumulated pressure. It also increases the blood flow to your digestive tract, making it more efficient.
TRY: The Cobra
Yes, you read that correctly. Stretching can give the appearance of looking younger. When stretching, a lubricant called synovial fluid is released from the joint cavity. This fluid cushions and reduces friction between your joints, which can help prevent the joint pain often associated with aging. Stretching can give you a spring in your step at any age.
TRY: Gluteal Crossover Stretch
Bad circulation can leave you feeling tired and zapped of energy. Other common symptoms include headaches and “pins and needles” in your hands and feet. Stretching is a really simple way to improve blood circulation, which allows your blood to do its job: bringing nutrients to your muscles and flushing toxins from your body.
TRY: Downward Dog
Rehabilitation programs often include some form of stretching because it helps maintain muscle flexibility when recovering from an injury. It’s also used to prevent any shortening and tightening of muscles due to scar tissue. And because injuries can leave your body imbalanced, stretching is a great way to retrain your muscles back to their original symmetrical movement.