by: Cierra Bennett
There are many elements that are very important to practice when trying to live a healthy and fit lifestyle, but the most important thing is stretching! Stretching has many benefits for everyone, young and old and should be a part of everyone’s daily routine, even if they aren’t planning to exercise. Have you ever wondered why you feel the need to stretch right after you wake up? We subconsciously do it because when we sleep the muscles lose tone and fluid builds up in your back. So, when we stretch it helps to gently massage all the built-up fluid back to where its’ supposed to be and realign all muscles. Stretching all together is the key factor to activating the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the body’s ability to rest, digest, recover and increase blood flow allowing us to return to consciousness and regain control over our muscles. It is especially important to stretch before and after workouts because it gets your body ready for any exercises you may have planned, and after to reduce the probability of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and increase your level of flexibility. Dynamic stretching should be done before a workout and be specific to the activity of your choice and static stretching after the workout. Why? Because dynamic prepares your muscles, ligaments and tendons for the workout improving one’s performance in any given activity and static helps improve the range of motion (ROM) in joints, in which promotes greater balance, stability and flexibility. Not only does stretching improve one’s flexibility and circulation of blood, but it is also responsible for several other factors like reducing the risk of injuries, improves posture, and plays a hand in reducing and managing stress levels by releasing the tension in muscles caused by physical and emotional stress.