Our bodies are made to be flexible. We need lithe, supple muscles in order to be able to use our bodies to their full potential. This means being fit, being able to reach high or low and live our lives without pain and restriction.
So what is stretching exactly? Stretching is the activity of extending our bodies to their full length potential, or even just an arm or a leg. When we stretch, we straighten our limbs and strengthen our muscles. Our ability to stretch our body effectively minimizes with age. The joints start to stiffen, and our bones begin to weaken. Starting a good stretching routine as soon as possible can prevent this from happening.
The benefits of stretching are that the length of your tendons and muscles will increase and therefore your range of movement will also increase! This assists greatly in preventing injury during sport or any other physical activity. The suppleness of your muscles and tendons will give you strength, and more leeway for physically grueling activities that could cause injury to more brittle and tighter muscles.
When you are able to stretch to your body’s full potential, you will have freedom to do more. When you can jump, reach and twist without feeling any pain you will free up endless possibilities of fun sports and activities to participate in. Stretching has even been known to prevent heart problems, and reduce cholesterol. This is because stretching can prevent and even reverse the hardening of your arteries.
There are many different ways to stretch. You can stretch at any time of the day or night, but it is preferable to set aside a time for stretching. Of course, if you are going to be participating in a sports activity, it is imperative that you stretch. Most coaches will not allow their sportsmen or women to start a game, match or race without stretching first. Research has determined that the recommended stretching time is 10 minutes. Anything longer than that will exhaust the body, and is especially unnecessary and detrimental when vigorous physical activity will follow the stretching exercises.
One of the most popular stretching exercises is to stand up straight and then reach down with your fingers to touch the tips of your toes. Hold for about five seconds, and then stand up straight again. Repeat this about ten times. You can stretch your legs by standing up straight, taking your one foot in your hand and holding it against your back. Repeat with the other foot. There are many different and specific stretching exercises for your limbs and other parts of your body.
Naturally, if you are involved in exercising and sports, stretching should be an integral part of your preparation routine. If not, you should try to stretch your body and limbs at least once a day. Stretching does not have to be tedious, or uncomfortable. Once you have become a regular stretcher, you will be amazed at the limits you can take your body to.