Stretching And Why Massage Therapists Always Tell You To Do It

Stretching And Why Massage Therapists Always Tell You To Do It

Woman Stretching

Hopefully by now you all know the importance and the benefits of getting massage, but do you really understand the importance and benefits of stretching? If not, this article is for you! This is why you should be stretching — every day.

Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle or tendon (or muscle group) is deliberately flexed or stretched in order to improve the muscle’s elasticity and achieve a comfortable muscle tone. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong and healthy; we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains and muscle damage.

For example, sitting in a chair all day can result in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which inhibits walking. Likewise, when tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, such as playing tennis, they may become damaged from suddenly being over-stretched. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can then lead to joint injury. Regular stretching however keeps muscles long, lean and flexible.

Stretching is often seen as something performed by only athletes or runners, but we all need to stretch in order to guard our mobility. Believe it or not, stretching is just as important as regular exercise. Just like exercise should be done on a regular basis, so should stretching. Stretching for only 5-10 minutes a day can make a huge difference. To make stretching part of your daily routine, do it while watching TV, when you wake up in the morning, and/or before you go to bed. Stretching after exercise is also imperative for preventing muscles from locking down post-workout.


For your overall health, keep these six benefits of stretching in mind:

  1. Relieves stress — Life is filled with stressors; before you know it, your muscles are tight, and your joints are beginning to hurt. Stretching lengthens muscles and relieves tension which alerts your nervous system to dial down the stress response.
  2. Improves digestion — Yes, stretching can actually help improve your digestion. While you stretch you are bending your body in positions that affect the flow of blood of lymphatic fluid. For example, gentle twisting yoga poses increase blood flow to the bowels, reduce inflammation and gastritis, and strengthen the intestines. So, next time you have a big meal and you feel discomfort in your stomach…stretch!
  3. Reduces anxiety — Relaxation techniques such as stretching help reduce anxiety. One of the main components of stretching is breathing. It’s important to focus on your breath; take deep inhales and exhales to relieve your mind of the constant racing thoughts that feed anxiety.
  4. Soothes headache — Tension in your neck muscles and scalp can lead to aching headaches. Why? Well, if you sit with your head in the same position for too long you will form tight muscles. These tight muscles exert force on the head and can create trigger points in the tissues. Stretching can help reduce muscle tension which will help soothe your headache.
  5. Decreases muscle soreness — You got in a great workout at the gym, then you woke up the next morning in a ridiculous amount of pain. Reduce the pain of sore muscles by stretching after your workout. Stretching helps increase your blood circulation and range of motion which ultimately relieves the tension in your muscles.
  6. Improves posture — Tight and tense muscles can contribute to poor posture. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, shoulders and chest can help keep the back in better alignment and improve posture.

For proper execution, hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds. Don't bounce, which can cause injury. You'll feel tension during a stretch, but you should not feel pain. If you do, there may be an injury or damage in the tissue. If the pain doesn’t subside within a few days, it’s best to talk to your doctor.

Angela Brewer, LMT

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