7 Beautiful Ways Stretching Benefits Your Body
Have you noticed that after a good night’s sleep or afternoon nap, the first thing your dog does when she gets up is stretch? Ahhh…that feels good. But more importantly, stretching restores flexibility to muscles that have tightened up during sleep so she can move fluidly and comfortably as she trots over to her bowl of kibble. Stretching is a natural daily habit for our canine companions, and it should be for you too.
Here are the reasons why:
- Not only does stretching restore flexibility to muscles that have been inactive and become stiff (think about how you feel after a long car ride), it prevents your muscles from tightening up after your vigorous Curves gym workout. Exercising without proper stretching can lead to injury, muscle imbalance, and stalling of results.
- As we age, our muscles naturally lose flexibility, making them more prone to injury. Think about it: An elastic band is less likely to tear or break than an inelastic one. We want our muscles to be as supple as possible as we go through the Curves Circuit, both to prevent stiffness and for maximum results.
- Consistent stretching relieves joint stiffness and improves your range of motion, making everyday tasks—and your full body workout at Curves—easier and more enjoyable.
- Your muscles are linked—interdependently—from head to toe. When one muscle is tight, it affects other areas of your body. Your hamstrings (the muscles at the back of your thigh), for instance, become shortened and tight if you do a lot of sitting and that tension stresses muscles in your lower back. Stretching prevents muscle imbalances that can lead to pain and injury, and it helps maximize your range of motion as you engage in your whole body workout.
- By stretching all major muscle groups, you’ll have balanced flexibility throughout your body, which improves your posture and creates mechanical efficiency for optimal functional movement, meaning that whether you’re doing a Curves fully body workout, going up and down stairs, putting away groceries, or taking a walk with friends, you’ll enjoy full, fluid, and comfortable motion.
- Regular stretching can help decrease mental and physiological tension1, and when combined with mindful breathing techniques, can also lower your risk of depression and anxiety. Stretching can also help decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate, which can counteract the muscle tension that can result from psychological stress.
- Flexibility and stretching exercises can improve your blood flow and circulation2, which will in turn help to maximize the health benefits you get from your whole body workout at Curves. Improved blood flow from stretching allows for enhanced transportation of oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
The healthiest muscles are both toned and flexible. And even though you’ve stretched throughout the circuit, finish your workout with the recommended post-circuit stretch routine that you would usually do.
When just beginning a stretching routine, you might find that your range of motion is less than you had imagined but don’t get discouraged. Improving flexibility takes time. Keep with it, and your muscles will become increasingly flexible and supple.
And you will feel…ahhh…so good!
1 American Council on Exercise