Thank Goodness for Stretches

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It is delightful to watch a cat stretch. A stretch that engages every muscle in its little body. Most times when the cats finish their stretch they start purring as if the stretch released endorphins in the system. It seems as though the stretch put them into a deeper state of relaxation. That is experientially true for humans too.  If you have done any type of  stretches you will notice that you feel more relaxed.  That is why after a heavy workout, it is recommended that you stretch all parts of the body properly, so that there is no residual tightness in the muscles.

Stretches are excellent for muscles and joints. Our joints have ligaments and tendons. Stretches when done properly stretch the muscles, joint tendons, increasing their elasticity and lubrication, thereby enhancing the range of motion.  ” Stretching is the deliberate lengthening of muscles in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion”. Stretching regularly warms up the muscles, making them supple but strong enabling easier more fluid-like movement which helps with injury prevention.  It also increases blood supply, consequentially increasing nutrient supply to the muscles, which greatly helps reduce muscle soreness.

What are the benefits of stretching?

  • Lightens the body and mind: Stretching loosens tight muscles which helps your muscles relax, thus increasing blood flow. It brings relaxation, helps release endorphins, creating a sense of peace and tranquility.
  • Improves Posture: Lifting weights tighten the muscles, stretching loosens and flexes tight muscles. Tight muscles create tension and stress in the body and effect posture. Stretching the muscles can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture by relieving aches and pains.
  • Increases Endurance: Muscle fatigue can be prevented by increasing blood flow to the muscle which enhances overall resilience.
  • Enhance Energy: Muscles tighten when we get tired and that makes us feel even more lethargic, Doing simple stretches  helps to quickly and efficiently revitalize energy levels.
  • Improves blood circulation:Greater blood circulation helps promote cell growth and organ function. This lowers the  heart rate since it doesn’t have to pump as hard, thus stabilizing the blood pressure.
  • Shorter recovery Time: Enhanced blood circulation helps muscles bounce back quickly from post-workout soreness.

When is a good time to stretch?

  • Stretching after you wake up gets the blood flowing and the lethargy going.
  • When feeling drowsy do a few stretches and at once you will feel awake due to increased blood supply.
  • Definitely stretch after exercising to prevent muscle soreness.
  • Activate the mind and body after prolonged day of inactivity or being sedentary with a few power stretches. Stretching for example helps relieve symptoms of jetlag.
  • Stretching before going to bed can lead to a more restful sleep.

Tips for proper stretching.

  • Warm up your body before stretching. Stretch very slowly without jerks.
  • Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds—and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. If you hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds, you’ll need to do each stretch only once.
  • Stretch should be pain free. Immediately stop if you feel pain.
  • It is important to relax into the stretch and breathe freely.
  • Stretch both sides of the body and hold the stretch for an equivalent time on both sides.

Stretching is especially helpful to those suffering from joint problems and various types of arthritis. Nonetheless stretching exercises are good for everyone. Increased blood flow to the muscles and cells brings a certain radiance and vibrancy to the entire system. Incorporating stretches in the exercise routine is wonderful way to keep those muscles relaxed, flexible and strong.

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