The Benefits Of Stretching
There are so many benefits of stretching that we can reap once we start doing so on a regular basis. Both mentally and physically that are literally life altering!
But what are the best stretching benefits? And what can they do for us in the short and long term?
Well below I jump into the best benefits as well as the different types of stretching that one can engage in!
Enjoy my friends.
The 5 Different Types Of Stretching
This is the style that most of us are most familiar with. It is when you hold a stretch for anywhere from 10-60 seconds. Essentially long enough for you to feel a release in tension in the muscle that we are stretching. This type of stretching can be enhanced by contracting the antagonist muscle group. For example if we are stretching our quadriceps, we can contract or hamstrings in order to get a better stretch in our quadriceps. It is seen as the safest way for the general population to reap the benefits of flexibility.
Active Isolated Stretching
There are so many benefits of stretching that one can reap when engaging in a consistent routine. It can bring both physical and mental benefits that can literally be life altering. Both in the short term and long term.
So what are these benefits and why is stretching so important?
Well below I go into the best stretching benefits there are for the human body. Starting with the types of stretches and then elaborating on all the benefits that you can get from stretching.
The Different Types of Stretching Styles
This style of stretching is similar to static stretching in which it doesn’t require motion like the types of stretching I elaborate on below. Isometric stretching is known as one of the quickest ways to help an individual develop both increased static and passive flexibility and is seen as being considerably more effective than both passive and active stretching. It is more known for being great for those who participate in martial arts. It’s main purpose is to develop extreme range of motion in an individuals body.
Isometric stretching is when tension is created in a muscle but still maintaining it’s length. An example of this is is stretching out your hamstring by putting your foot up on a chair and contracting your hamstring at the same time while digging your heel into the chair.
These are also referred to as range of motion (ROM) exercises and have excellent benefit for exercising and working out. It allows one to mobilize the body by practicing movements that are associated with the workload you are going to engage in that day. For example if you are going to be working out your legs that day, you would warm up with things like air squats, jump squats, leg kicks along with different of lunges.
These dynamic movements are done for the purpose of bringing a stretch to the muscle bu not holding it in the end position like you would with static stretching. The science behind dynamic stretching is that is sends signals to our brains to our muscle fibers that we are preparing them to engage in physically taxing work. It also allows us to gain more range of motion in the muscles we are going to work so we can complete our exercises in a more safe manner.
PNF stretching is seen as more of an advanced way of stretching and flexibility training. This is because it has to do with both stretching a muscle and contracting the muscle at the same time. It was created originally for rehabilitation. It has also been shown to increases muscular strength. The person who is doing PNF stretching contracts a muscle group for 5-6 seconds while their partner applies a good amount of resistance in order to inhibit movement.
Afterwards the controlled stretch is applied for 20 to 30 seconds. Proceeding this step is a controlled stretch that is done for 20 to 30 seconds. Afterwards the muscle group that was being stretched goes through 30 second recovery period. Which altogether this process is repeated in total 2-4 times.
This style of training is essentially combining passive stretching with isometric stretching.
Ballistic stretching is a style of stretching is regarded as a method of stretching for more seasoned athletes and those who are in peak physical shape. It consists of bouncing and rapid movements which are done repeatedly. They are done so in order to stretch the muscle beyond its normal range of motion. The main goal of ballistic stretching is to improve ones flexibility but should not be done by novice lifters and amateur athletes. The style if is more jerky and erratic.
This isn’t really stretching, but it allows you to release adhesions in the muscles in order to lengthen the muscle back to it’s original length. By doing this you maximize your stretch routines as the muscles are in a better position to be stretched.
The 21 Benefits Of Stretching
1.) Optimizes Performance
Stretching is so important because it helps with what is called the “length tension relationship”. Because of habits that we have in our lives, muscles shorten due to things like sitting too long. The hip flexors shorten, the quads become tight and the opposing muscle, the hamstring lengthens.
When this happens there is muscle imbalance that causes an actual tilt in pelvis tilting it forward. This puts stress on the lower back as it takes away your glute power, putting them at a disadvantageous position. They become weak. This is why 80 percent of the population will experience low back pain at some point in your life.
The whole kenetic chain becomes weak when this happens. Kenetic chain meaning that whole body and the way if functions. When joints are restricted, there is less range of motion around that joint. This causes a myriad of problems and refrains one from reaching their full athletic potential. Or just being safe in daily life movements. When one has optimal length tension relationships with the agonist, antagonists, synergist and stabilizer muscles in their body, proper movement occurs. One can be confident enough to exercise and live life without worrying about the risk of injury.
Sharecare.com has a great article on how stretching decreases stress as it improves elasticity and mobility. This creates relaxed movement throughout our day along with less tension in our bodies. It also puts us in a meditative state to where we can rest the body and mind, reaching a sense of quiet in the mind by putting us in the moment during our routine.
Also the article references Dr. Oz who talks about how stress restricts blood flow in our body. This causes tension in our muscular system. When we stretch we stimulate receptors within our nervous systems which decrease production of stress hormones.
- Being vital to creating an anabolic environment that fosters new muscle growth
- Feeds the blood system, which allows for transport of muscle building catalysts
So the pump, also known as exercise-induced hyperaemia, releases nitric oxide which facilitates the relaxation of smooth muscles which line the blood vessels. This expands the lumen of the actual blood vessel. This is the spot in the middle of the blood vessel where blood flows though.
The expansion of this area results in peak vasodilation in which things like testosterone, growth hormone and amino acides along with insulin-like growth factor are delivered to the muscles that you are working.
- Better breathing – You will be able to inhale with more power, drawing more air into your lungs. It allows us to open up our body and more naturally use our diaphragm which helps us engage in proper breathing instead of chest breathing.
- Think better as your brain will be more oxygenated
- Avoid health complications – You will relieve stress on your body that will keep you from things like slipped discs, chest pressure, jaw pain, back aches, neck aches and anterior pelvic tilt.
- Increased Flexibility – It helps us release muscles back to their comfortable state after being constricted and contracted. Which when done long term will help our bodies become more flexible and prevent injuries.
- Eliminates Lactic Acid – This will help you be less sore and recover quicker, allowing you to workout the same muscle groups faster.
- Improve Blood Circulation – It helps our heart beat return back to normal and our body to cool down, bringing it back to our resting state before entering back into the world.
- Releases Tightness From Working Out – This will prevent future injuries as you are stretching muscles that have been under trauma with resistance training. This muscles naturally tighten up under this stress and need to be lengthened back to their normal length after being tight.
13.) Better Stability
There was a study done to test whether stretching helped with stability. The study that was done involved 42 college students split with 21 males and 21 females along with 10 male surfers. They all performed tests on a stabilometer which is a device that measures how well one can stabilize their body.
The students performed tests on 2 separate days that followed 3 days of familiarization. The testing tracked the students under the condition of sitting for 30 minutes not partaking in any stretching. Along with 30 minutes of stretching activities. The stretching activities consisted of a myriad of both unassisted and assisted static stretching positions that dealt with the muscles around the knees, hips and ankle joints.
Compared to the study group the students that stretched for 30 minutes before hoping on the stabilometer showed an 11.4% better balance response. The researchers linked stretching to bettering fine muscle coordination.
This can be huge for the aging population as they are more prone to falls which can lead to injury and even death. The younger population can prime themselves to create good balance now and for their future. And the aging population can use stretching as a way to ensure their safety by bettering their ability to balance.
14.) Burns Calories
Livestrong talks about how engaging in a Hatha yoga class allows someone who weighs 155 pounds to burn 149 during a class that is 30 minutes in duration.
As far as dynamic stretching goes, the article talks about how one can burn anywhere between 135 and 200 calories per half hour allotment.
Also as you stretch more you will be able to utilize your muscle groups better. This means that you will workout more efficiently. You will naturally have more energy and perform exercises with better form. Allowing you to workout longer, hence burning more calories
Conclusion To The Stretching Benefits
- “If you stretch correctly and regularly, you will find that every movement you make becomes easier.” – Bob Anderson
- “I love Nautilus and stretching. The results are immediate and that gives me the motivation to continue.” – Donna Dixon
- “Flexibility is crucial to my fitness. Incorporating a good warm-up and cool-down into every session decreases my chances of injury. I use both dynamic and static stretching in my training. I’ve stared doing a few yoga sessions which incorporates muscle strength and flexibility.” – Samantha Stosur
- “I bend so I don’t break.”
- “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.”