Stretching Has Numerous Proven Health Benefits – Here’s Some of the Best!
Have you ever noticed how good a stretch is after a nap, when you first wake up in the morning, or after vigorous physical activity?
That good feeling is just the beginning of the many healthy benefits you can get from daily stretching!
That’s why our physical therapist commonly recommends specific types of stretching exercises to complement other physical therapy methods and treatments.
How can physical therapy help with stretching?
Since stretching exercises offer so many important benefits, it’s not hard to see why we use them all the time in physical therapy.
The goal of stretching is to improve range of motion, flexibility, and muscle elasticity. The five most common stretching exercises are:
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
- Low Load
Your physical therapist will likely combine targeted stretches with strength building exercises, massage therapy, ultrasound therapy, ice or heat therapy, and many other techniques to help you feel better and stay healthy.
Your physical therapist can also make sure you do the right stretches for your specific needs, and can show you how to perform these stretches safely.
Here are five ways you can improve your health, comfort, and function by simply stretching:
1. Stress relief
Emotional stress can often turn into physical stress in the form of muscle tension, sleep problems, and suppressed immune function. In other words, it can make you sick!
Stretching exercises can help to release the accumulated tension in your body while also calming your mind. Stretches that include mindfulness work (such as yoga) can prove especially helpful for easing the stress that might otherwise impair your health.
2. Chronic pain relief
Speaking of pain relief, you may be surprised and delighted to discover how just well stretching can work as a chronic pain management tool.
For instance, certain stretching exercises can undo the painful muscle knots associated with tension headaches or chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia.
Stretching is also recommended to help control arthritis pain and stiffness. Our physical therapist can determine which kinds of stretches will best suit your needs.
3. Improved blood circulation
Stretching doesn’t just relax your muscles; it also helps them receive the nourishment they need. That’s because when your muscles are tight and stiff, blood doesn’t flow through them as easily – and blood contains the oxygen and other nutrients necessary for optimal tissue health and performance.
Stretching to ease that muscle tension gives your circulation a welcome boost. The same effect also helps your tissues rid themselves of unwanted, pain-causing substances such as lactic acid.
4. Injury prevention
Athletic events, physical training, or demanding labor can leave you with a painful strain or sprain, especially if those tissues were “cold” when they were subjected to their burdens.
Gentle, careful stretching before a challenging activity can reduce your risk of acute injury. Stretching immediately after your activity will also remove any muscle tension that may have accumulated during your strenuous activity.
5. Increased flexibility
Are you frustrated because you don’t seem to have the same range of motion that you once did? A variety of musculoskeletal challenges can reduce your flexibility, creating stiffness and making certain motions uncomfortable or even impossible.
Stretching can gently coax the stiffness out of tight tissues. Depending on the cause and location of your stiffness, our physical therapist may prescribe exercises such as hamstring thigh hip, chest, shoulder, upper back, or bicep/tricep stretches to loosen you up and improve your mobility.
Add stretching into your daily life today!
According to the Mayo Clinic, “stretching can increase flexibility and improve your joints’ range of motion, helping you move more freely. And ensuring that you have equal flexibility on both sides might help protect you from injury.”
Are you ready to stretch your way into a happier, healthier lifestyle? Please contact StepUp Physical Therapy today to schedule an appointment and learn more about how stretching and PT can benefit you!
We don’t stretch the truth when we say we can help!