The complete guide to stretching

You can’t beat a good stretch, whether that’s first thing in the morning or after exercising. But did you know that stretching regularly has an amazing number of benefits and can help make a massive difference to your overall health?

Not only can stretching improve flexibility and mobility, but it can also help boost your circulation and reduce stiffness. In this article, we’ll show why stretching is important and how you can easily add just a few minutes of stretching to your day.

What are the benefits of stretching?

There are so many benefits of stretching, many of which you may already know and some that might be a surprise. Here are our top 10 benefits of stretching:

1. Improved flexibility

Improving your flexibility will not only make it easier to carry out everyday activities, but you can also be proactive in delaying age-related reduced mobility.

2. Increased range of motion

If your joints are able to move through their full range of motion, you will move more freely and easily. Studies have shown that stretching on a regular basis can help lengthen your muscles and improve your range of motion, along with decreasing your risk of muscular injury.

3. Improved performance in physical activities

Warming up with stretches before physical activity is incredibly beneficial, as this helps prepare your muscles for exercise. In turn, the improved joint movement and flexibility can improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury.

4. Increased blood flow to muscles

Regular stretching can improve your circulation, as it increases blood flow, boosting oxygen levels and delivering nutrients to muscles. In turn, this can shorten your recovery time and lessen any muscle soreness. This increased blood flow also helps to remove metabolic waste such as lactic acid, ammonia, carbon dioxide and uric acid.

5. Improved posture

Poor posture can lead to a range of physical problems and is often caused by decreased levels of strength and flexibility along with poor muscle tone. By strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups, your posture can be improved by encouraging proper alignment and reducing musculoskeletal pain. Visiting a chiropractor is a great place to start when it comes to achieving perfect posture.

6. Helps heal and prevent back pain

According to the British Chiropractic Association, 49% of the population may suffer from a bad back and most people will experience back pain at least once during their life. As mentioned earlier, tight muscles can lead to a decrease in your range of motion. This can make straining your back muscles more likely. Regular stretching will assist in balancing your back muscles, to not only help heal an existing back injury, but also prevent any future back pain.

7. Stress relief

If you suffer from stress, you’ll be pleased to know that stretching can help. When we are stressed, our muscles tighten up in response to the emotional and physical turmoil we’re experiencing. Stretching your neck, shoulders and upper back on a daily basis will help, as these are areas that commonly hold stress.

8. Calm your mind

Stretching can actually be a great way of calming your mind. When you stretch, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps induces calmness. While you’re carrying out your stretches, focus on meditation and mindfulness exercises to calm your mind. You might find it really relaxing!

9. Decrease tension headaches

Migraine and headaches can be debilitating and make it hard to carry out daily activities. It’s always worth talking to your healthcare provider about any medication that can help, but most chiropractors include gentle stretching in their package of care for headaches, as it helps to release tension in the upper body.

10. Reduces injury risk

One of the best benefits of stretching is that it can prevent injuries. Stretching is great for helping with existing stiffness, inflexibility and injuries, but if you make it part of your daily routine, you will also help to reduce the risk of any muscular injury in the future.

Which stretching techniques are recommended by experts?

There are plenty of resources on stretching available, but a great starting point is the Straighten Up programme from the British Chiropractic Association. In just three minutes a day, this set of gentle stretching exercises will help improve your spinal health to help you feel and look your best.

If you are experiencing any pain, are injured or have any chronic conditions such as Parkinsons or arthritis, it’s best to consult your GP or chiropractor before you start Straighten Up or any other programme to check that the exercises are appropriate for your specific needs.

Research also suggests that warming up or taking a bath before stretching means that blood is already flowing, making tissue more pliable. Try five to ten minutes of light activity before stretching, such as a quick walk or even a spot of house cleaning.

Always follow the guidance given on how long to hold a stretch for and the golden rule is that you should feel tension during a stretch, but it shouldn’t be painful.

What time of the day should I stretch?

Stretching in the morning

Often when we wake up we have a good stretch without even thinking about it. Not only does it help ease any tension from an uncomfortable sleeping position, but yawning and stretching is thought to be your body modifying tension in your fascia, the connective tissue surrounding muscles, organs, and blood vessels. When your fascia is flexible, oxygenated and supple, it makes it easier for you to move.

Stretching during the day

Sitting at a desk for many hours during the day can lead to stiff and tight muscles, so stretching for just a few minutes during the day can really help loosen things up. It’s also a great idea to stretch after exercising, to ease tightness and fatigue in your muscles.

Stretching before bed

As stretching can induce a feeling of calm, it’s perfect as a wind down exercise before bed. Studies have shown that stretching can reduce symptoms of insomnia and improve sleep quality – even more reasons to include it in your routine.

Will stretching make you more flexible?

Performing activities to strengthen your muscles will help to slow down the bone and muscle loss associated with ageing. This will allow you to keep performing everyday tasks and reduce your chances of falling.

There are many benefits to improving your flexibility, including:

● Allowing your muscles to work more effectively

● Helping your joints move through a full range of motion

● Increasing muscle blood flow

● Improving your ability to carry out daily activities

● Improving your performance in physical activities

● Decreasing your risk of injuries

● Reducing aches and pains

● Improving your posture

How a chiropractor can help

Chiropractic care and stretching is a great combination. Blending chiropractic treatments alongside simple stretches will help you achieve the results you want faster, whether that’s recovery from an injury, reduced pain, improved performance in sport or you simply want to futureproof your body. Working regularly with a chiropractor to gain flexibility will also mean that you go at a pace that suits your ability and age too.

How can Chiropractic Care Clinics help?

We have been helping clients feel better for more than 30 years, and are able to devise a tailored programme for you that includes a blend of chiropractic treatments followed by stretches to help rehabilitate muscles. We offer a range of services from chiropractic to counselling, aromatherapy to sports massage.

Contact us

For more advice on stretching or the services we offer, feel free to contact us. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help

News & Research

Related stories

The benefits of walking

It’s National Walking Month and what better time could there be to get up and moving? The NHS recommends that we get around 150 minutes…

Read More.

How to take care of your back

October 3rd-9th is Back Care Awareness Week. According to the British Chiropractic Association, most people will suffer from one or more episodes of back pain…

Read More.