When you call on the muscles for a non-regular activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That raised risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. Here is where stretching can step in and save the muscles from becoming short and tight. Even with the new normal of work from home, sitting in the same position throughout the day, can result in stiffness in hamstrings and back of the thigh. Likewise, when tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, such as playing a sport, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint injury. Indulging in some regular stretching can keep muscles long, lean, and flexible, and this means that any surprise exertion won't be too much strain.
Healthy muscles also help a person with balance problems to avoid falls, says David Nolan, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. Stretching is a process and does not fetch overnight success. Consistency and regularity over a period of time will actually make the difference. It may take weeks to months to get flexible, and you'll have to continue working on it to maintain it.
Stretching does not necessarily warm up the muscles and prepares them for activity. It is a more suitable activity for a cool down. "When everything is cold, the fibers aren't prepared and may be damaged. If you exercise first, you'll get blood flow to the area, and that makes the tissue more pliable and amenable to change," says Nolan. These are some reasons why stretching can be a great way to upkeep the health of human body:
Reduced pain and stiffness
Excessive muscular tension can increase discomfort throughout the body. Stretching can help to decrease stiffness, reduce pain levels and the frequency and severity of muscle cramps.
Reduce risk of injury
Stretching can be considered an important part of injury prevention, as cold muscles and tendons in the body are at a greater risk of rupture, strain or sprain.
Dynamic stretching can help increase agility, power, speed and muscular strength. This will also lead to better performance while working out.
Enhanced blood flow and circulation
Since stretching induces flexibility in the body, it in turn improves blood flow and circulation as well throughout the body. Transportation of oxygen is also enhanced.
Improved muscles around the joints
Regular stretching looks after the muscles around the joints. It ensures that there is an equal degree of pull happening so that the joint is able to move freely in the desired direction. This also helps in allowing optimal movements and lesser stress on the body.
Boosted quality of life
As we grow older, a lot of physiological changes take place in our bodies. To increase longevity and better the overall quality of life, stretching can prove to be instrumental by imparting flexibility at any age.
It is advisable to consult a healthcare provider before any stretching program if you have a chronic or unresolved injury, seeking professional guidance is crucial to ensuring you don’t risk additional injury.