Why does stretching feel good? This content explains that in detail, discusses the benefits, and provides examples of simple stretches you can do on a regular basis in this article.
Many of us, without even realizing it, begin our days by stretching before we even get out of bed.
Pandiculation is the involuntary stretching of your muscles. Most animals exhibit this behavior to relieve muscle tension. Stretching is one of the few activities that feels better after a period of inactivity.
Stretching lowers your risk of injury, can induce a sense of calm and is even thought to improve circulation.
Reasons why Stretching Feel Good
Humans have a natural tendency to avoid things that cause pain and to seek activities that feel good. Stretching is no exception.
Your body’s natural reward system makes stretching feel good to motivate you to keep your muscles at optimal tension.
Here’s a closer look at the reasons why stretching feels good.
1. Improved Circulation
When you stretch a muscle, your body responds by increasing blood flow to that area.
The blood vessels around the targeted muscle widen to allow more blood to flow through, and your heart starts pumping more blood.
This increase in blood flow allows the muscle or muscles you’re stretching to receive more oxygen and to get rid of metabolic waste products.
2. Parasympathetic Activation
Research has shown that static stretching activates your parasympathetic nervous system and inhibits activation of your sympathetic nervous system.
Your parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for your rest and digestion functions. It can also help induce feelings of calmness and relaxation.
3. Endorphin Release
Endorphins are chemicals produced by your central nervous system and pituitary gland that function as neurotransmitters.
They have greater pain-relieving effects than morphine and cause a feeling of euphoria when they bind with receptors in your brain.
Endorphins are part of your body’s natural reward system and are released after activities like exercise, sex, eating, and drinking.
What are the Benefits of Stretching?
There are many benefits to stretching your muscles regularly. Let’s look at these benefits in more detail.
1. Increased Flexibility
Regularly stretching may help improve your flexibility, especially if you live a sedentary lifestyle.
Your flexibility naturally decreases as part of the aging process, but stretching may help slow down this process.
2. Improved Circulation
Stretching causes short-term improvements in circulation by relaxing your blood vessels and increasing the amount of blood your heart pumps.
Although it’s a fairly new area of research, it’s thought that stretching may have long-term benefits on your circulatory health, such as improved blood vessel function and lower blood pressure.
3. Stress Relief
Static stretching activates your parasympathetic nervous system. Activating this branch of your nervous system may help alleviate the psychological effects of stress.
This, in turn, may help induce feelings of calmness and relaxation.
4. Better Sports Performance
Being able to achieve a full range of motion through all your joints may help boost your sports performance.
For example, to achieve maximum speed, a sprinter needs to be able to fully extend and rotate their hips.
Both static and dynamic stretching may be able to help you improve your range of motion. However, static stretching should be reserved for after workouts since it can decrease force production.
5. Improved Posture
Muscle tightness and tension can negatively affect your posture by pulling your spine into positions that can put stress on your back, neck, and core muscles.
Research has shown that regular stretching in combination with core strengthening exercises may help improve poor posture and alignment.
What are the Tips for Stretching Safely?
To stretch safely, these are some of the major tips that will guide the process.
Kindly adhere to these:
1. Avoid Stretching Cold
Before you start stretching, it’s a good idea to get your blood flowing to avoid injury.
Doing a low-intensity activity like walking or easy jogging for 5 minutes can help warm up your muscles.
2. Stretch Gently
Don’t force any position that causes pain. If a stretch is painful, it means you’re stretching too far.
3. Make Stretching a Routine
You can reap the most benefits from stretching if it becomes a regular habit. Fitness experts recommend stretching at least two to three times per week.
4. Stretch Both Sides
Be sure to stretch both sides of your body equally to avoid flexibility imbalances.
5. Avoid Bouncing
Bouncing while you’re stretching can injure your muscles or tendons. It can also make your muscle tighten.
Stretching is relaxing because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system and increases blood flow to the muscles. Stretching is thought to release endorphins, which help to reduce pain and improve mood. Please, kindly share this content on all social media platforms.