Is stretching the new wonder drug?

All the benefits and no side effects

Recently, we wrote about recent studies showing the danger of too much sitting down, and gave you a few tips on how to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting.  So, if sitting is ‘the new smoking’ – stretching might just be the new ‘wonder drug’.

Practitioners of yoga have known for centuries what benefits can be derived from stretching, and now the world of western medicine is catching them up.  Some of the benefits are obvious – others might surprise you.

Stretching improves the blood flow through our muscles – including the brain.  So rather than reaching for that shot of caffeine first thing in the morning – or during that after-lunch lull in vitality – do a few stretches.  The increase in blood flow will invigorate both your mind and body.

Muscle co-ordination is improved by stretching.  This is particularly important as we get older, but is also vital for anyone who plays sport – either professionally or for fun – as it can reduce the likelihood, and the severity of injuries.  Meaning more time playing and less time ‘on the bench’.

Stretching will improve the flexibility of your muscles – which will not only help you get through the day with more ease, but improve your sports performance.  Of course, if dancing is your thing you will find an increased level of grace if you do some stretching beforehand.

Some studies have recently found that stretching can even reduce your blood sugar level – which is so important in the management of weight and keeping diabetes at bay.

And if all that is not enough to convince you – stretching can reduce stress.  When we are stressed our muscles tighten, and stretching will relieve this tension, helping to convince our brain that we are relaxed.

The great thing about stretching is that it can be done anywhere, anytime.  You don’t require special clothing – although tight clothes may make it difficult.  You don’t require special equipment.  And you don’t need to break a sweat, so you can do some stretching in your office, and go straight to a meeting with no problem.  And for people with busy schedules, that really is a benefit!

The key to stretching is twofold – firstly, be gentle.  If it hurts, you are doing something wrong.  Secondly, stretching should be done in motion.  Don’t stretch and hold for extended periods, but move into and out of the stretch in fluid motions.  The more you stretch, the further you will be able to stretch, but slow and steady wins this race.

Stretching might not be new, but with all the benefits it brings, is sure is a side-effect free wonder drug!

If you would like to know more about the benefits of stretching, or get some guidance on the types of stretches you should be doing, call us at Precision Health Spine & Sports Clinic Baulkham Hills.  Our Chiropractors and Massage Therapists are trained in the do’s and don’ts of stretching and are always happy to help with advice.

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