The Benefits of Stretching

Stretching, in its most basic form, is a natural and automatic action. People often stretch instinctively after waking from sleep or after long periods of inactivity. Incorporating stretching into your daily workouts or into your regular day on their own is just as important to health and body functioning as regular exercise.

Stretching has so many benefits. Start a program of stretching, and you will notice many of them. Some of the benefits of stretching are:

Better posture
Chronically, tense and tight muscles contribute to poor posture, which in turn can affect the functioning of our internal organs, not to mention our appearance. Stretching the muscles of the shoulders, lower back and chest can help keep the back in better alignment and improve posture.

Improved circulation

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Stretching improves circulation of blood to the muscles and joints. Increased blood circulation brings nutrients to our cells and removes waste byproducts.

For The Mind
A buildup of stress causes your muscles to contract, therefore, becoming tense. This tension can go on to have a negative impact on just about every part of your body. Like all types of exercise, flexibility exercises like stretching have powerful stress-busting abilities.

For the Body
The most established and obvious benefit of stretching is to help improve flexibility and range of motion. As the body ages, muscles can become tighter and range of motion in the joints can be minimized. A lack of flexibility can cause movement to become slower and less fluid, making an individual more susceptible to muscle strains or other soft tissue injuries.

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Also, it has been proven to help increase blood flow to the muscles. This increase in flow brings with it a greater nutrient supply to muscles, thereby reducing muscle soreness and helping to speed recovery from muscle and joint injuries. The less sore your muscles are, the less painful it will be to work those same muscles and to exercise in general.

Gentle stretching can help increase flexibility in specific movements. The gentle movements of tai chi, yoga or pilates, for instance, may be a good way to stretch. In addition, when performing specific activities, such as a kick in martial arts or kicking a soccer ball, start by doing the movement slowly and at a lower intensity at first to get your muscles used to it.

 Culled from:heartofhealing.net

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