Stretching daily can help avoid bad posture.
5 Reasons you should stretch
Author: Alex Borja
5 Reasons You Should Stretch
Stretching is an activity that needs to be performed by everyone and not just athletes or fitness professionals. The importance of stretching cannot be underestimated and can easily be done in 10 minutes or less. Many of us have planned on stretching right after our training routines and usually end up with little stretching or blowing it off altogether. Many of us still will not employ stretching into our daily lives as the necessity of stretching is overlooked. I will explain a few key reasons why you should be stretching and the dangers of omitting stretching.
Reason #1: Reduce your rate of injury
One the most well known attributes to stretching is the fact that it can reduce the rate of injury. Without stretching you are far more likely to sustain and injury which can be very debilitating. Athletes are very familiar with this concept as coaches around the world heavily emphasize the importance of stretching.
Just because you are not an athlete does not mean you shouldn’t stretch. The average person can sustain an injury all the same as an athlete without stretching. Daily tasks can become dangerous activities leading to injury without proper stretching especially if you already engage in strenuous exercise.
For example, think of when you must carry your groceries out of your car and into your house. Carrying that load of weight can lead to tissue damage such as strain if you avoid stretching. Perhaps you bend down to tie your shoe and feel a snap or pain in your hip region. This could have been avoided if this person took a few minutes out of their day to stretch. Will stretching lead to a lifetime of injury-free activity? Most likely not but it will give you a much higher probability of avoiding such injuries.
Reason #2: Shortened muscles are weak muscles
When you develop really rigid muscles due to exercise or daily activities involving repetitive movements the fibers become shortened. This shortening can be relieved with stretching and without it can lead to fragility and weakness in the muscles involved.
When muscles become shortened you reduce your range of motion (ROM) and therefore aren’t as functional or flexible. Instead of being able to reach up on top of the fridge, you may require a stool to reach the same distance due to shortening of the muscles.
Tendons connect bone to muscle and shortened muscles will lead to increased stress on these associated tendons and bones. This unnecessary tension can lead to tearing of the muscle or even breaking the bond between your tendon and bone, taking along a piece of the bone called an “avulsion fracture”.
Even if this does not happen you can develop weak muscles which are mechanically challenged due to the shortened state of the muscle. This called “active insufficiency” and basically means that your muscles will not be able to produce full or normal force due to muscle shortening.
Reason #3: Reduce bad posture
Even if you do not cause serious initial or acute damage to your body, the long term effects can be disastrous. Tight muscles cause tension which pull bones slightly out of alignment. You may not notice its effects at first but can quickly lead to chronic pain and much harder to solve problems down the road. Begin stretching as soon as possible to avoid bone misalignment and costly medical bills! This leads to the next reason to stretch daily.
Reason #4: Stretching saves you money
This cannot be emphasizes enough. Avoiding stretching can lead to injury either now or down the road. These injuries will only increase in medical costs as you let them progress and build up. Why take the chance of developing a long term postural or serious injury problem when you can do 10 minutes of stretching now, for free?
Ever experience back pain or know someone with it? My bets are that you do as more than 80% of adults in the United States will experience back pain their lives! Why such a high number? We as a nation tend to have jobs where inactivity is common. Common work environments which require sitting for instance will lead to tight back, neck, and hamstring muscles. This is due to low level contractions throughout the day. You don’t realize you are contracting these muscles because they are endurance muscles and meant to withstand long periods of tension. The only problem is that we sit day in and day out which leads to muscle tightness. Stretching should be done daily to avoid problems. Even getting up every hour to for a short walk can greatly reduce the chance of tight muscles.
Consider the cost of health insurance, prescriptions, provider services, and equipment that will all most likely be required if an injury takes place. Pain pill prescriptions alone can put a decent dent in your wallet. Getting high quality health insurance that would cover 100% of the cost will cost a ridiculous amount of money that most of us would rather not pay. Think of the time off work that would need to be taken if the injury is serious or if physical therapy services are necessary. Don’t take the risk—stretch!
Reason #5: Stretching improves your image
Consider the fact that stretching will actually improve the tone of your muscles. Stretching allows your muscles to become larger in volume as tight muscles leads to shortened muscles. Your stretching routine will also inadvertently lead to muscle gain and fat loss. Your stretched muscles will also be mechanically efficient in comparison to tight ones which will lead to muscle gains. You want muscle gain as the more muscle you have, the higher the metabolism and thus the more weight you will lose.
Hopefully these 5 reasons to stretch have given you a lot to think about. Employing a stretch routine into your daily life or at the end of your workout can take minutes and save a lifetime of pain and money as well as create a healthy image.
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