Benefits of Stretching for Optimal Wellness - Forever blog article | Forever Knowledge
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Benefits of Stretching for Optimal Wellness

Restore balance and ease ailments by slowing down. Effective physical fitness isn’t only about high-intensity workouts. There’s nothing quite like breaking a sweat, but it’s also imperative to incorporate stretching so your body can effectively use muscles, recover, and become more resilient.

Kat Morrill, an ACSM-certified personal trainer and ACE-certified health coach and nutrition  specialist, encourages people to recognise that stretching should be more than an after-thought in their wellness routine — and that it’s beneficial for more than increased flexibility. In fact, both mobility work and stretching are key to building muscle, preventing injury, and optimising your health overall.
Before diving into the benefits of stretching, it’s important to understand the difference between mobility work and stretching. Mobility work typically precedes a workout, priming the joints, muscles, and tendons for optimum performance. Static stretching is best performed post-workout; it elongates muscles and restores range of motion. If you start stretching with intent, you’re bound to feel the benefits and you will create greater balance in your wellness. Read on to see just how impactful stretching really can be.

Prevents Injuries

Without mobility work and stretching to aid in improving range of motion, the probability of injury increases.  According to Morrill, chronically tight, shortened muscles are more prone to injury. Plus, a subpar range of motion leads to joint tension, which can result in improper form during workouts. Warming up your joints with mobility exercises before any exercise is important, but especially when weightlifting, which puts increased load on your joints and muscles. Post-workout stretches allow your body to restore range of motion, helping prevent future injuries.

Improve Posture

We spend much of our lives with our heads in a forward position, whether we are texting, driving, or working at computers. This sedentary lifestyle, combined with the weight of the head, puts extra pressure on the discs, as well as neck and back muscles. It also leads to poor posture, which can result in aches and pains. Stretching — particularly the neck,  thoracic spine, lower back, hips, shoulders, and chest — can help align your spine and relieve muscles that tighten up from prolonged sitting.

Get Better Blood Flow

Stretching gets your blood flowing, which carries oxygen to your cells and helps your organs function more effectively and efficiently. Better blood circulation can reduce post-workout soreness and increase oxygen to your muscles to help them perform better and for longer. Beyond that, Morrill says stretching also lowers your heart rate, reducing strain on your heart and stabilising your blood pressure.

Enhance Physical Performance

According to Morrill, stretching preps and primes the body for working out. Mobility movements will increase blood flow so that the body moves better and has an optimal range of motion while exercising. Post-workout, static stretching will help you achieve the necessary balance in your fitness regimen. Morrill encourages people to stretch and recover as hard as they train to maximise their results because, contrary to popular belief, a workout actually breaks muscles down while recovery builds them back up.

Optimise Mental Health

Stretching is a gentle way to slow down and give your mind and body a break. Because stretching has been shown to increase serotonin — the “feel good” hormone that reduces stress — it can help you relax, boost your mood, and experience mental clarity. Stretching does all of this by calming the central nervous system, which has a direct effect on stress and mood. Stress leads to muscle tension, so stretching helps reverse this cycle by easing areas of tightness while addressing their source.

How do you incorporate stretching into your fitness routine? Let us know in the comments below.

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