The Benefits of Stretching and How to Get Started

Article posted in: Lifestyle

A few years, a lovely compendium of life advice became an internet sensation. It was initially attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, but the truth finally came out that it had been written by Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Schmich. Most people remember it for her first bit of advice: “Wear sunscreen.” But I remember it for this: “Stretch.”

No study has ever concluded that there is a scientifically-proven reason why you should stretch. But no study has ever been able to prove that there’s no benefit to stretching, either. So most experts in the field come down on the same side as Schmich and advise us all to stretch.

There are some definite benefits to stretching. You’ll improve the range of motion in your joints, which can make it much easier to walk, swim, run or do yoga. That better range of motion can also be a valuable guard against chronic injuries such as sore backs and knees, things you can develop just sitting at a desk. It also improves blood flow to the muscles.

You can stretch any where, any time—at the office, at home, lying in bed. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you get started. And as with all things related to your weight loss program, be, uhm, flexible.

Don’t stretch cold muscles: move around a bit before you start.

Don’t make it hurt: stretch too far and you risk a tear or pull. Do stretch to the point at which you feel it.

Do hold the position for a few seconds.

Do work major muscle groups: the backs of your legs, the sides of your upper body, the shoulders.

Do it more than twice a week. You’ll love the feeling.