Add Stretching To Your Day For These Health Benefits

stretching-benefitsFew things feels better than a good stretch. When was the last time you took 15 minutes to methodically stretch every part of your body? The best time to stretch is immediately following a workout as part of your cool down. Stretching helps to lengthen the muscles, improve stability and balance, and helps prevent injury. It can also help with stress and releasing tension being stored in your joints and neck. There are four types of stretching – ballistic, dynamic, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, and static stretching.

Types Of Stretching

Ballistic stretching is a bouncing motion that stretches the body part to its maximum. Dynamic is a slow in-motion stretch that slowly stretches the muscle, but doesn’t necessarily reach its maximum. Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is focused on a particular muscle where the stretch is held until the muscle releases through the application of tension. Static stretching is where a muscle is stretched and tension is held for 30 seconds or until the muscle releases, there is no bouncing or movement. Most people who aren’t regular athletes engage in dynamic and static stretching. It’s best to do dynamic stretching as a warm up to exercise. You never want to stretch cold muscle. Running in place, doing jumping jacks or some other activity to warm up the body is best, then go into a cycle of dynamic stretching. Static stretching is best after exercise when the body is warm and the muscles are more pliable.

Best Practices

Putting together a stretching regimen isn’t difficult at all. Before a workout engage in dynamic stretching by doing arm circles and crisscrossing your arms in front of your body. Then alternate pulling your knees up to your chest and holding it for about five seconds. Bend over and touch your toes about ten times. Super easy. After the workout you want to first focus on slowly bringing your heart rate down through dynamic stretching. Then move into about 10 to 15 minutes of static stretching.

Start in a standing position to stretch the arms, back and legs. Move to a seated positions to do more focused stretching on the legs and back. You will feel your muscles resist. Just relax into it and eventually the muscle will release. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. I suggest alternating. For example, stretch your left leg for 30 seconds, then switch to the right, then back to left and so on. Over time the muscles will relax quicker.

Stretch For Health

There are workout regimens comprised almost completely of stretching such as yoga and Pilates. These exercise forms incorporate resistance to help with strengthening muscles. They can also help with pain, though you should consult a physical therapist and/or medical professional first. These type of exercises are also low impact while still providing cardiovascular benefits and aid in stress reduction and tension release.

Stretching is also good for mindfulness. Do you mediate or thinking of starting? Doing static stretching can help with mindfulness practice. The various stretches are teaching your brain how to focus on one body part at a time. You have to feel the tension and evaluate how well the stretching is working to know if you should go deeper or stop all together. Couple this with the relaxation benefits of stretching and you have set yourself up for a successful mindfulness journey. Our brains are the single best ally we have in achieving our greatest life goals, we just need to unleash its power.

Not sure how to get started, there a tons of free videos just search on the internet. If you subscribe to cable TV, many providers have free 10 minute workout routines that include stretching, check On Demand. Have a stretching routine you like, recommend it in the comment section below. We love hearing from you.

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Nile Harris
Nile Harris, the Chief Chick, is a word weaver and dream believer with 20 years of experience in healthcare, finance, and education. This aspiring motivational speaker, TED presenter and LinkedIn Influencer is committed to valuing people, driving healthcare access and innovation, and weaving words that move people to action. Her views are her own.
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