I still remember when the penny dropped for me and I knew I should think about stretching, something I’d ignored for a long time. I got a call from my dad saying that he was off on holiday for a couple of weeks and wanted me to look after his dog while he was sunning himself.
It was good fun looking after Oscar for a fortnight even if he is a bit of a nightmare. Whenever I would come down in the morning and opened the door to the living room, Oscar would get up and instead of wildly running up to greet me he would stretch out both his front and back legs first. The same thing would happen when he woke up after resting from our afternoon walk. At first I didn’t even notice it but after a week I expected to see him stretching out each morning – then it clicked, why wasn’t I stretching? I mean it makes perfect sense that we should stretch our body before doing anything but it seems that most of us don’t.
I started to do my research about the benefits of stretching and it seems that my four legged friend had it all worked out! There were so many articles and studies out there waxing lyrical about stretching. Here’s what I found:
It seems that our lives these days are full of things that can stress us out both mentally and physically, and without warning your muscles start to become tighter and the joints start to ache. If you stretch daily your muscles will start to lengthen and tension will be released which in turn will help to reduce stress.
I was really surprised about this fun fact but stretching really will improve digestion. When you stretch your body will be moving into different positions that affects the bodies flow of energy. Yoga is great for this because the poses you get into will twist the body and increase the amount of blood flowing in to your bowels. If you don’t believe me, then the next time you gorge on a huge meal and you’re feeling uncomfortable try some simple stretches and you’ll see how much better your tummy feels.
One of the big things related to yoga is not only stretching but also the focus you place on your breathing. Focussing on your breathing helps to reduce anxiety and improve the level of relaxation you get from your stretching exercises. I found that taking long breaths in and out helps to focus my mind and relax the body.
If like me you find yourself sitting at your desk for long periods of the day then you will notice some tension in your neck, this can lead to headaches. If you don’t move your head then neck muscles will become extremely tight – simple neck stretches will greatly reduce this tension and your chances of headache will decrease massively.
Reduce Muscle Aches
If you hit the gym regularly don’t just show up hop on the treadmill or lift weights, shower and head home. We all know that if you don’t stretch you’ll wake up the next morning feeling like an old man! So you need to stretch before and after a work out, this increases the blood flow to your muscles and it will reduce the tension too.