5 Benefits of Stretching

Stretching on a regular basis can have several health benefits. Many people know that stretching before physical activity is important, but stretching every day regardless of physical activity is important as well. Here are five benefits that stretching has.

1. Stretching can improve posture.
Tight muscles can cause poor posture. Specifically, the muscles of the chest, back (both lower and upper), and hips can cause poor posture if they are tight. Many of us spend at least a portion of our day sitting at a computer or looking at a phone or tablet. The position that is typical with these activities (rounded shoulders and forward head) is a position of poor posture. We can improve on this by stretching the pectoralis, upper trapezius, and hamstring muscles, to name a few.

2. Stretching can improve range of motion and prevents loss of range of motion.
As we age, our joints lose range of motion. We can counteract this by stretching regularly. Even if range of motion in some joints is limited, stretching can help to improve this.

3. Stretching can decrease back pain.
This somewhat goes hand in hand with posture. If we have poor posture in the upper back, the lower back compensates and can develop pain. Also, if we have tight hamstrings or hip flexors, the lower back compensates and can develop pain. Stretching the leg muscles and the muscles mentioned for posture will likely help to decrease back pain.

4. Stretching can help prevent injury.
If you stretch a muscle too far, it will become strained or torn. If your stretch and increase the range in which a muscle can move, the likelihood of injuring it decreases. Stretching before physical activity specifically helps prevent injury by bringing blood flow to the muscles, warming them up, and decreasing any tightness they might have to prevent a strain or a tear.

5. Stretching can decrease muscle soreness.
If you have soreness in a muscle or muscle group from a recent workout or from a muscle strain, stretching can help relieve some of this discomfort. Many times, when we are injured, the muscles around the injury site tighten up as a protective response. By stretching these tight muscles out, pain and soreness can be alleviated.

Content provided by Myranda Griebel, PTA