The Joy of Stretching


We’ve all heard about the seventh-inning stretch and stretching our dollars, yet we often forget to stretch our own bodies. Yoga classes remind us to stretch. However, you don’t need a class or a video to remain limber. Many of us simply forget how good stretching feels.

Stretch like a feline
Ever wonder why muscles need stretching in the first place? If you’ve ever watched a cat awaken from a midday nap, you know the first thing they do is stretch their lithe little bodies.

It eases tension, increases oxygen, and releases lactic acid that builds up in muscles, making them tight and sore. It promotes circulation while improving flexibility to keep your body purring.

Use it or shorten it
If you stop using a muscle regularly, it actually begins to shorten. When you wear heels or sit at a desk for hours at a time, it restricts the full length of your calf muscles and hamstrings. When you start working out again, you’ll notice you mobility has decreased. According to movement experts, you should stretch at least several times a week for 15 minutes or more. Various stretches work with different muscle groups. Try to exercise all the muscle groups in a single session.

Go gently into your good night
When you fail to stretch before working out, you make yourself susceptible to injury. Joints can also becomedamaged when your muscles aren’t strong enough to support them. Stretching consistently helps muscles remain long and flexible. It also improves posture and balance. Remember to start each day and work out with some simple stretches to avoid dealing with shortened muscles or tightness that impedes your mobility.

Stretching releases endorphins to reduce pain and keep you smiling. It relieves stress and enhances your quality of sleep by activating your parasympathetic nervous system to encourage relaxation. A few simple stretches before bed quiet your mind so you slide more peacefully into slumber. You don’t have to be a Yogi to stretch correctly. Go slowly and gently. You’ll quickly remember how joyful stretching feels.