Stretching is one of those things that a lot of us learned in Phys Ed when we were kids and then sort of forgot entirely.
As it turns out, however, daily stretching boasts a whole complement of benefits you may not even have considered.
Here are the top 7:
1. Stretching reduces stress.
Feel like you’d got a boulder between your shoulders, just grinding away at your muscle tissue? Stretching can help with that. Daily stretching tricks muscles into feeling more relaxed, while taming mental and physical tension. Take that, shoulder boulders!
2. Stretching may lower your blood sugar.
This is helpful for everyone, but especially for high-risk populations. A study completed in 2011 showed that adults who were prediabetic or had type 2 diabetes benefited from stretching: their blood glucose levels were significantly lower after drinking a sugary beverage and stretching. A similar population who drank the sugary beverage and completed “mock stretches” -doing the pose but not actually stretching- did not have lower blood glucose levels.
3. You may be less likely to get an injury.
Stretching puts your body into “workout mode” and the mental acuity therein puts you into a mindset of paying closer attention to how your muscles are functioning. The science on this isn’t wholly there, but more and more studies seem to suggest that this is likely true.
4. You’ll get more out of your workout.
Daily stretching helps you better achieve your workout goals. By allowing your body to ease more deeply into activities such as squats, you’re able to achieve a more complete workout.
5. You’ll reduce pain & move around more easily.
Avoid static stretches of the “stretch-and-hold” variety, and focus more on range-of-motion stretches and soft tissue work with a foam roller. (Range of motion stretches are anything that incorporates full range of motion, like shoulder rolls or wrist circles.) This will help reduce bodily pain and increase your -you guessed it- range of motion.
6. You’re less likely to trip and fall.
A recent study showed that of 42 college students who tried to stay on a stabilometer -a contraption that requires you to balance to stay on it- the students who stretched beforehand were able to stay on it much longer than the ones who sat quietly beforehand. Stretching may help your awareness of your fine motor muscles, therefore ensuring that you’re more keyed into your ability to balance.
7. No more 3:00 p.m. crashes.
Stretching can get you through the midafternoon crash better than coffee or other stimulants. Just a few minutes of stretching instead of a few minutes at the Starbucks drive-thru help blood circulation throughout your body, including your brain. Trade your usual latte for a little stretching and see how far it can take you!
Are you more likely to incorporate daily stretching now? What do you think? We’d love to hear from you!