If you think stretching is just for yoga-loving gym rats, think again. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three main benefits of stretching daily: improvements to your range of motion, a boost in your athletic performance, and a decrease in your risk of injury. If regular stretching is not already part of your workout routine, it’s time to change that, and do your body and your muscles a big favor.
Benefits of Stretching Daily
Stretching Improves Your Range of Motion
This is one of the obvious benefits of stretching daily. By working on your flexibility, you can enjoy a wider range of motion, which can help you avoid unnecessary strain to your muscles. But it’s not just about being able to reach your toes. Yes, that’s a good indicator of your overall flexibility, but increasing your range of motion through stretching can also mean increased flexibility in your neck, back, hips, and shoulders. For seniors, these types of injuries are common, especially for those living an active lifestyle, but they can be avoided by keeping your muscles loose through stretching.
The best way to increase your range of motion is to practice static stretching. This type of stretching has you hold one position for 15 to 30 seconds. The longer you hold the position, the more your muscles will loosen up and stretch. If you continue these movements daily or weekly, you will notice improvements in your flexibility. If you aren’t familiar with static stretching, check out these 10 stretches for seniors from the fitness app Apptiv.
Stretching Improves Your Athletic Performance
You don’t have to hit the basketball court or compete in a 10K to enjoy the perks of improved athletic performance. Stretching can help you perform even if your exercise regimen is little more than regular walks, dancing, or a friendly game of tennis. It might sound unimportant, but it actually loosens your muscles, which helps keep them ready for use.
But if you’re gearing up for a regular workout, static stretching is not your best option. Instead, use dynamic stretching as a warm-up. Unlike static stretching where you hold one position for a set amount of time, dynamic stretching involves movements that lengthen your muscles while gently increasing your heart rate at the same time. This type of warm-up is especially useful before any physically demanding activity when you want to get your blood flowing and your muscles limber before truly exerting yourself. Dynamic stretching can decrease your risk of pulling a muscle while you work out, even if your workout is just a brisk walk around your neighborhood. The Arthritis Foundation rounded up seven easy dynamic stretches you can try out.
Stretching Can Help Reduce Back Pain
One of the benefits of stretching daily is that it can reduce and even prevent back pain. As Harvard Medical School explains, “Stretching is a valuable component of a treatment plan for anyone plagued by back problems.” Weak back and abdominal muscles can lead to or even increase back pain. “That’s why stretching and strengthening your back and abdominal muscles are important not only for treating low back pain, but also for helping to prevent a recurrence of the problem.”
Before you decide to treat back pain with daily stretching, talk with your doctor. Any stretching regimen you create should target the muscles in your back, abdominals, and buttocks, which are used to support your body during walking, standing, and sitting.
As you begin to implement your new stretching routine, be sure to listen to your body. If a move is painful, don’t push it. Let your body ease into a stretch, and let gravity do most of the work for you. Finally, be sure to consult your doctor and ask which stretches are the right fit for your health and age. Happy stretching!
If you’re looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee, check out Hearthside Senior Living in Collierville and Bartlett. We encourage our residents to live full and active lives, and our warm and inviting communities make it easy for seniors to embrace a healthy lifestyle. We offer home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, and a nurse devoted to residents’ health and wellness. To learn more about our amenities and services, please give us a call at 901-854-6590 or contact us online.