Blog Post - News, Views and Tips
I love stretching, whether it’s Yoga, Pilates or just a good stretch and yawn in the morning. Stretching just seems to ease out any niggly knots and makes me feel so much more upright and aware of my posture, but in reality it does so much more.
The fact that once many of us hit our 30’s, aches and pains seem to start hitting us out of nowhere. This would tend to indicate that we do too little stretching and sometimes practically none at all. I would suggest that while occasionally some of these pains may need proper medical attention, the vast majority can actually be resolved by performing simple stretching routines. Worryingly most people neglect stretching, even if they are fit gym regulars. It’s generally seen as the least important part of any exercise routine (it doesn’t actually make you any fitter now, does it?) and so will frequently be restricted to a quick hamstring stretch, and possibly a couple of half hearted upper body ones. Stretching though, should be seen as a critical part of any exercise programme, and below I have put together my top ten list of some of it’s advantages. If any of these reasons hit home with you, then at the end of this post I’ve got some more good news.
1. Stretching can improve both strength and flexibility.
2. The ligaments and tendons surrounding muscles and joints are strengthened by stretching, helping reduce the risk of injuries during exercise.
3. It also keeps your joints lubricated by stimulating production of synovial fluid.
4. It can also help to lower high blood pressure.
5. Stretches can help with posture, keeping your spine aligned correctly and helping to reduce Kyphosis (forward head).
6. Upper and lower back pain can be prevented or eased by various stretches.
7. Some stretches are a combination of balance and stretch, which helps with mental health and proprioception (your body’s innate sense of joint and limb positioning during movement). This is especially important for coordination in complex sporting movements.
8. Any stretch which enhances proprioception is beneficial as you age, as it reduces the risk of falls and the potential for subsequent bone fractures in later life.
9. Stretches which involve twisting your body can help your internal organs, gently massaging them and assisting in eliminating toxins.
10. Some stretches can really relax you, feeling wonderful as the tension is eased away.
There is a whole lot more to stretching, and it’s therefore worth making a point to be aware of how tense and stiff you currently feel. Fortunately I’ve previously sent out ‘Stretch of the Week’ posts, which some of you may have already seen, and if you haven’t they’re worth checking out. They’ve covered either Yoga or Pilates stretches, and even if you only manage to do some of these stretches for 10 minutes a day, you’ll realise very quickly how much better you feel after each session.
A word of caution – Stretching can have a dangerous side, and some stretches are not ideal for everyone. It is important to know your limitations and avoid over straining, so please consult your G.P. if you are unsure whether any condition you may have, would prevent you from performing certain stretches.