Benefits of Daily Stretching
There are many benefits of flexibility exercises and stretches — including preventing injuries, reducing pain, and assisting in posture, balance, mobility and performance.
What exactly is flexibility? Flexibility is defined as “the quality of bending easily without breaking.”
It’s what helps keep our muscles elastic, rather than allowing them to shorten and stiffen. This is important not just for athletic performance, but also for everyday activities that improve quality of life (especially among older people).
What are examples of flexibility activities? These include stretching, foam rolling, yoga, pilates and tai chi.
As explained more below, it’s ideal to incorporate several different types into your routine. This way you target multiple parts of your body that can wind up becoming tense and tight, such as your hamstrings and shoulders.
Benefits of Flexibility
People who are flexible have the ability to to lengthen one or more joints and move through a greater range of motion without limitations or feeling pain. According to experts in flexibility, such as physical therapists and orthopedics, the importance of staying flexible shouldn’t be overlooked — since it’s one of the keys to preventing injuries, aging gracefully and remaining independent in older age.
In case you need a refresher about the many benefits of flexibility, here are the top reasons to include stretches and flexibility exercises, such as yoga, in your training routine:
1. Can Help Prevent Injuries Due to Tightness
How does being flexible prevent injuries? Flexibility reduces imbalances and muscular compensations that can contribute to strains, pulls and tears.
It can also decrease tension in muscles and helps prevent tightness from causing too much stress on neighboring joints.
Essentially, we need to stretch to lengthen muscles so risk of injury is reduced, since inflexible muscles and joints overcompensate for other ones that are too tight.
2. Improved Range of Motion Enhances Performance
According to Harvard Health Publishing, “a well-stretched muscle more easily achieves its full range of motion. This improves athletic performance — imagine an easier, less restricted golf swing or tennis serve — and functional abilities, such as reaching, bending, or stooping during daily tasks.”
Greater range of motion in certain body parts, such as your in your hips and knees, allows you to get the most benefits from your workouts because it helps you push yourself further, sink deeper into exercises, and ultimately allows you to keep training for longer and at higher intensities.
Flexibility is also important for decreasing straining and discomfort while working out, which makes it easier to push yourself more and then recover more easily.
3. Enhanced Mobility Assists in Everyday Activities
People who regularly perform flexibility exercises tend to experience less pain and can more easily do everyday tasks like bending down to tie a shoe, walking upstairs, picking things up from the floor, or getting up from chairs or couches.
This is why flexibility becomes even more important as people age, since it reduces the risk for poor balance, falls and accidents.
4. Helps Improve Posture
Sitting for long periods of time and failing to stretch after exercise can both take a toll on your posture and mobility. For example, too much sitting often causes tightness in muscles in your low back, hips and calves.
Flexibility exercises can help improve posture and decrease slouching and pain in people who sit for prolonged periods of time or who are mostly sedentary. For example, upper-back and shoulder stretches can decrease neck pain and headaches, while leg and hip stretches can reduce sciatic pain and knee pain.
Stretching is also helpful for people with arthritis and spinal problems (as long as it’s done correctly).