The Many Benefits of Stretching & Flexibility

There’s a common expression in life – ‘use it or lose it.’

This certainly applies when it comes to stretching the body.

Unfortunately however, many people avoid it, execute it poorly or don’t do enough of it. The body relies on being stretched, much like a car needs regularly servicing.

Here are some of the benefits of stretching:

  • Improves flexibility – Being flexible is beneficial for everyday life. It allows you to push your body beyond its comfort zone, thus increasing your overall physical ability.
  • Improves the range of motion in your joints - This provides better balance, which will help keep you mobile and less susceptible to falls.
  • Improves circulation – Stretching increases the blood flow to your muscles, thus improving your circulation.
  • Relieves stress – Stretching relaxes tense muscles that often accompany stress. This helps relax the mind as well.
  • Injury prevention and recovery – Stretching helps condition the muscles and joints, thus helping to prevent injuries and reduce recovery time.
  • Improves posture and technique– Stretching prevents muscles and joints from seizing up and improves elasticity, allowing better posture and technique.And it doesn’t just end there…
  • Increased length of relaxed muscles
  • Increased power and elasticity of our muscles
  • Increased endurance and metabolism
  • Assist in achieving better coordination, muscle control and proper technique in sport
  • Enable your body to perform more with less energy
  • It simply feels good!

Unlike 20 years ago, people today are generally more conscious of the importance of regular exercise and a healthy diet. We understand the benefits of feeling physically and mentally fit, as well as the importance of quality life. What many people fail to comprehend is that regular stretching has just as much influence on our body’s ability to perform effectively, if not more.

Michael Jordan

“Basketball legend Michael Jordan said one of the main reasons why he played in the NBA well into his late 30s was because of all the stretching he did as part of his fitness routine.”

Craig Smith, BBC News Sport

Why is Stretching Often Neglected?

There are a number of reasons why people don’t stretch. Non-athletes in particular, tend not to stretch unless their muscles or joints feel stiff or sore. These symptoms usually occur as a result of a physical movement that is foreign to the body. It’s only then the benefits of stretching is realised.

For many athletes, stretching usually takes place 10 – 15 minutes post warm-up. This often leads them to think that they’re ready for action and consequently they brush aside their stretching exercises. This is a major cause of injuries.

Not stretching after an event is also a problem. Quite often an athlete is so lethargic that they forgo stretching and head for the hanging rooms instead. This causes muscles and joints to seize up and stiffness to occur the following day.

Repercussions of Not Stretching

If you do not stretch your muscles are tight, what does it mean?

  • Decreased mobility
  • Decreased muscle metabolism
  • Decreased muscle coordination
  • Decrease power “output”
  • Decreased speed
  • Increased risk of injuries

We all know how important stretching is, especially before, during and after exercise, but how many people religiously do it when required? We all have different stretching needs and it’s a matter of determining which bracket you fall into, to ensure that you’ve got it right and not exposing yourself to the risk of injury.

Athletes

Stretching is crucial for all athletes. There are a number of sports that require vigorous body movements and pressure on the muscles and joints, including cycling, martial arts, gymnastics, weightlifting, football and running.

The number of leg muscle strains and tears that occur in sport is overwhelming, so one must question just how many of these injuries could be avoided if athletes stretched properly when required?

Non-athletes

People who exercise infrequently or not at all are more prone to injury, mainly because their bodies aren’t conditioned to comfortably cope with movements that the body isn’t used to. Stretching can help resist injury as well as speed up injury recovery.

Elderly

For a lot of elderly people, maintaining mobility can be difficult to achieve. Muscles and joints weaken and range of movement deteriorates. Stretching helps develop and maintain strength in these areas and can significantly provide greater quality of life.

Regular stretching is good for blood circulation, allowing greater injury prevention and quicker recovery. The key is to start stretching at an early age, to ensure that you are mobile when you get older.

Stretching Effectively

Time and time again you’ll come across someone stretching with poor technique, not long enough, or not at all. It’s a common occurrence and most of us are guilty of it. Leaning over to stretch the hamstrings for 2 seconds and rolling the ankles for 5 seconds before or after a football match is clearly not enough.

But it’s not just exercise that requires you to stretch regularly. No matter what profession you’re in, whether you’re a computer-based customer service rep, a mechanic or a painter, ideally you should aim to stretch properly at least 1 – 2 times a day.
When stretching, you should hold your stretch position for 10 – 30 seconds. Anything less than 10 seconds will prove ineffective and often pointless.

Flexibility – One of the Four Main Components of Fitness

  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Strength
  • Nutrition
  • Flexibility

However, it is often the most neglected aspect of fitness.  How much time, money, and effort have you put into the these three areas of fitness? But neglected the importance of correct stretching?

One of the greatest benefits of stretching with a Stretch A Flex is that no warm-up is required; your muscles are engaged from the moment you start using it. This allows you to stretch quickly, safely and effectively. By opting for this natural, body-friendly alternative, you have complete control over the amount of stretch you receive. Once you get going, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to stretch and just how rewarding it can be.

Effective stretching doesn’t require an expensive stretching machine, nor does it require the presence of a gym instructor. All you need is a flexibility enhancer, made from super strong webbing with two Velcro-style hooks.
By opting for this natural, body-friendly alternative, you have complete control over the amount of stretch you receive. Once you get going, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to stretch and just how rewarding it can be.

Isn’t it about time you got serious about flexibility?

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