How Flexible Are You?
Why is flexibility so important?
There are many reasons why having a flexible body is vital to our health and well-being. Good flexibility can improve athletic performance in physical activities, and cut down the risks of injuries.
Flexibility also helps to prevent everyday injuries such as muscle strains that may occur when you are getting out of bed, lifting or carrying something, bending down to pick up a child, or perhaps even walking up and down stairs.
Stretching should always be incorporated into workouts, but including it in your daily routine is just as important. A few minutes spent stretching before you get busy with your responsibilities will relax and increase blood flow to your muscles, and get you ready for action!
Health benefits of stretching and flexibility.
Flexibility, the result of regular stretching exercises, is a wonderful benefit to your body. When your body is flexible, the muscles around the spine are strengthened ad supported, and when the spine is working properly, your posture is automatically improved. Pain from previously drooping shoulder, back and neck muscles is dramatically eased.
In addition to your posture, here are some other excellent health benefits from stretching.
Improve energy levels. Sometimes you may grow sleepy from a long, slow day just get on your feet and do some stretching exercises to get the blood flowing to the muscles for an energy boost, and help your mind be more alert.
Promotes blood circulation. Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles, and will shorten recovery time after workouts and games.
Reduced soreness. Stretching before and after exercise, gives your muscles time to relax, prevent cramping, and relieve muscular pain.
Improved blood circulation will take the strain off the heart, especially after vigorous exercise.
Stretching before going to bed will relax your muscles and promote a comfortable sleeping experience.
Busting Stress. A build-up of stress can cause your muscles to contract, making you feel tense and restless. Tension can have a negative impact on your mind and body, and even lead to depression. Research has shown that stretching exercises have the power to reduce stress, and encourage a more optimistic outlook on life.
Tight muscles. Using the same muscles every day, especially if you regularly carry a bag or a backpack, can cause certain muscles to tighten on one side, and get out of balance. Stretching can relieve muscle tightness, and bring your body back to feeling better balanced.
The best result that comes from stretching exercises is that of body flexibility, which helps you move through a range of motions without the risk of injury. Conclusive research has shown that stretching and flexibility enhance the performances of athletes like swimmers and basketball players, by providing easier arm and shoulder extension and rotation. All athletes, however need to be conscientious about stretching to avoid injury.
Stretching and digestion.
On the big holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is traditional to gather with friends and family to share in a huge, celebratory meal. The dishes are elaborate and usually richer and sweeter than we are used to. After almost eating yourself into a coma, you barely make it to the couch so that you can sink deeply into the soft cushions for a couple of hours.
This year though, you can do things differently, and avoid some major problems in the belly area.
After the Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, instead of heading for the couch, rather go for a short walk, and encourage others to go with you! Alternatively, if going for a walk is not possible because of weather conditions etc, some gentle stretches after eating will help to ease digestion, prevent acid reflux, and relieve bloating and gas.
Yoga exercises which include stretching have been known to help digestive problems. Studies have shown that when stretching in yoga is combined with a healthy diet, it helps to relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and acid reflux.
While yoga exercises mainly focus on poses which include stretching, many of the exercises also instil a calmness of mind and body. Practising some of the yoga stretching exercises may also help to relieve built-up stress and tension which tighten and cramp your muscles.
Regular exercise of any kind improves the body’s ability to digest food, and studies have shown that stretching to improve blood flow to the muscles, can also prevent bloating and cramps.
Better digestion, and a healthy diet, will also help to promote weight loss, and stretching will lengthen your muscles for a leaner look - and keep your muscles loose and flexible.
For good health and freedom of movement – get stretching!