It is common knowledge that the practice of physical exercises is essential to keep our body healthy and functional. Trying to achieve a better quality of life, many people start playing sports, join the gym or start exercising at home, which is great! However, there is a practice that is essential for everyone, without exception, and that often ends up being ignored: stretching.
When we talk about stretching, the first association we make is flexibility gain. And yes! This is one of the benefits of stretching, but it is not the only one, nor is it the main one.
What is the real importance of stretching?
Have you ever stopped to think about why we stretch after waking up? This is an exemplary situation of the importance of stretching for our body.
When we wake up, for example, we have a situation where our body spent about 8 hours at rest, in the same position. This causes our tissues to be tensioned. To get rid of this and prepare the body for daily activities, we stretch. That’s a form of stretching!
Of course, for the benefits of stretching to be felt, stretching every morning is not enough.
Our muscles are like “elastic bands”, and they must be exercised in the right way to maintain their elasticity and, at the same time, allow our body to carry out certain activities without complications. When we go a long time without stretching, our tissues become more and more tense, and even simple movements end up becoming difficult to do. Likewise, when we apply more force than our muscles can withstand, there is a great risk of distension or even complete rupture of muscle fibers.
That’s why stretching is so important: in addition to maintaining or improving our range of motion, it also relaxes our body for other physical activities.
What are the benefits of stretching?
Now that you know the importance of stretching, check out some of its benefits for the body:
- Provides more flexibility to the body;
- Reduces chances of muscle injuries;
– Activates blood circulation;
– Promotes a feeling of relaxation and well-being;
- Reduces stress, anxiety and depression;
– Improves body awareness;
- Relieves tensions;
– Improves joint ability;
- Decreases muscle pain;
– Helps with physical performance.
The benefits of stretching frequently are diverse for all types of people, but especially in preventing and reducing muscle pain. When practice is associated with treatments such as chiropractic, for example, the results can be surprising in terms of resolving pain.
How to stretch correctly
Before performing physical exercise, including stretching, it is important to prepare and warm up your body. Warming up will make your body ready to perform movements of greater amplitudes, as is the case with stretching. For this reason, always reserve a few minutes before stretching to prepare your body, especially if you are looking to do a workout to acquire and not just maintain flexibility.
Another very important part of any type of stretching is breathing: during all exercises, be aware of your breathing, exhale and inhale in a calm and rhythmic way. This will allow you to feel better during physical activity, relax your muscles more, and will also help you a lot if you want to do more extensive exercises, which require greater body control and physical preparation.
In addition, to maintain the health of your body, it is also necessary to respect its limits. Stretching can cause slight discomfort in the first days of performing the exercises, but under no circumstances should the activity be painful. If you feel pain when stretching, it means you are pushing your body’s limits, and that makes you vulnerable to injury. Listen to your body, and increase the intensity of the exercises only when you are used to and comfortable with these types of stimuli.
Finally, remember that stretching does not replace other forms of physical activity, but complements them. Stretching should be part of your exercise routine to provide you with well-being and keep your body functional, however, strength and mobility training, for example, are also great allies of our health and cannot be left out.
Read More – Hyperbolic Stretching
Stretching tips for your routine
Below we have listed some exercises for beginners that will allow you to feel all the benefits of stretching on your skin.
These are easy exercises that can be done in less than 15 minutes, perfect even for those with the heaviest routine.
It’s worth setting aside a time every day to practice stretching. Put a reminder on your cell phone so you don’t forget and ensure consistency to ensure the effectiveness of the exercises.
– Reaching the feet
You probably already know this stretch, and why not take the opportunity to put it into practice? It can be done both standing and sitting, and it is very simple to replicate.
Leave your legs straight and try to reach your feet without bending them, and hold the position for 30 seconds. Then come back slowly, feeling the spine “uncoiling”.
There are several variations of this exercise that are worth your attention. One of them is also very simple: sit on the floor, bend one leg and stretch the other. Rest one hand on the knee of the extended leg and try to touch the feet with the other.
– Stretching the trunk
To relieve pain from sitting for a long time, stretching the torso is important. A good position is the side stretch. Much done in the practice of yoga, it can be replicated by people of all ages, including pregnant women.
It is also quite simple to run. Sit down, preferably on a mat or yoga mat, with your legs crossed. Support your right hand on the floor, stretch your left hand and lean your torso, stretching the side of your torso. Repeat the process for the other side.
– Child’s posture
Those who suffer from lower back pain should include exercises that stimulate this region in their stretching routine. A good choice is the child’s pose, or balasana, another suggestion that comes from yoga.
Get on your knees on top of the mat or mat and see if you can sit on them. If not, place a pillow between your feet and hips.
Then exhale as you bend your torso and bring your hands forward, keeping yourself seated on your knees. Walk with your hands as far as you can, feeling your body lengthen. Hold the pose for one minute.
– Wrist and hand stretching
Those who work on the computer should never forget to stretch their wrists and hands, running risks such as repetitive strain injury (RSI), as well as those who have tendonitis in the region.
The wrist stretch consists of extending one arm, with the palm of the hand facing outward, and pulling it back with the other. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other arm. After that, change the stretch to have your hand facing inwards, pulling with the other.
– Shoulder stretch
Anyone who has ever played a sport or attended a gym knows that the most famous shoulder stretch consists of raising your bent arms and pulling one elbow, maintaining the posture for 30 seconds and repeating the process on the other.
Another recommended exercise is to extend one arm and pull it against the body, also often done in sports and gyms. Hold the position for 30 seconds before switching arms.