Stretching is useful for more than just increasing your flexibility. It can also help to reduce inflammation due to arthritis and relieve joint pain. Stretching on a regular basis could even help prevent some of these issues and it has a calming effect.
What Happens When You Stretch
When you stretch, you also prepare your body for what you are about to do, such as when you stretch before a workout to prevent muscle cramps. It also helps to increase blood circulation and, therefore, movement of oxygen.
There are also studies that suggest stretching can help to build and elongate muscles. When you use a limited range of motion during your strength-training exercises, you may end up losing some of your flexibility. Stretching will help prevent this and could even reduce your risk of injury.
Stretching promotes recovery. When you exercise, your muscles need time to repair. In order to promote the recovery of muscle tissue, a few simple stretches can be very beneficial. Stretching releases toxins lodged between joints so it is important to drink plenty of water before and after stretching. It helps remove toxins from your bloodstream and away from your muscles.
Best of all, stretching can help to eliminate stiffness and morning pain related to stiff muscles and joints. Stretching does not take a lot of time and provides a wide range of benefits. If you are tired of dealing with sore or stiff joints and muscles, try these 6 easy stretches.
1. The Bound Angle
For this first stretch, sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Allow your knees to drop towards the ground.
Hold your knees as you inhale and stretch your chest upward. Exhale as you lean forward on your hips. Keep your back straight and place your hands on the ground.
Hold this position for five slow breaths and return to the starting position before repeating several more times.
2. The Runner’s Stretch
The runner’s stretch is a common stretch. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Step forward with your right foot and lunge. Place your fingertips on the floor as you lunge forward.
Breathe in and then exhale as you straighten your right leg. Slowly return to the lunge position and then repeat. Switch sides each time you repeat the stretch.
3. The Low Lunge
The low lunge is another easy stretch to increase flexibility. Step forward with your right foot. As you lunge forward, lower your left knee to the ground.
Bring your arms in front of your right leg and connect your thumbs, with your palms facing the ground. Breathe in as you sweep your arms over your head.
Stretch backwards as far as is comfortable. Take five deep breaths before returning to the starting position and switching sides.
4. The Standing Side Stretch
The standing side stretch begins in a standing position with your feet together. Reach your arms towards the ceiling. Clasp your hands together, with your fingers interlaced. Inhale as you reach further towards the ceiling.
Breathe out as you bend forward and twist your upper body to the right. Take five slow breaths and then return to the starting position. Slowly return to the center and then repeat on your left side.
5. The Forward Hang
For the forward hang stretch, stand with your feet hip-distance apart and your knees slightly bent. Interlace your fingers together behind your back.
Breathe in and straighten your arms as you expand your chest. Exhale as you bend at your waist.
Let your hands stretch to your head. Hold for five deep breaths, return to the starting position, and repeat.
6. The Seated Back Twist
For this last stretch, sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your knees and step your right foot over your left leg. Place your right hand on the ground, with your fingers pointed outwards. Bend your left elbow and twist to the right.
As you twist, place the back of your arm against your right knee. Inhale and sit up tall. Breathe out as you twist. Press your arm on your leg as you look over your right shoulder.
Hold this pose for five breaths and then slowly return to the starting position. Switch sides and then repeat.
These simple stretches can be performed by anyone, even the elderly. In fact, studies show that the elderly can greatly benefit from regular stretching. It increases your range of motion and helps eliminate back pain, improve your posture, and could be helpful for relieving pain related to arthritis.
To begin relieving stiffness and improve your flexibility, begin stretching each day. Running through this series of six stretches should only take five to ten minutes. Make stretching a part of your daily routine. It can be done anywhere.