We all know we should stretch after a workout, but how often do we actually do it? Cooldown stretches are usually the first thing we skip if we’re running low on time or energy. However, stretching for just a few minutes is a workout can have enormous benefits. Read on to find out more about these benefits and how you can start making stretching into a regular habit.
1. Improves posture
Regularly stretching and strengthening muscles in the back leads to reduced musculoskeletal pain and can improve the alignment of the spine.
2. Reduces back pain
As well as improving posture, stretching helps to loosen up tight muscles in the back which can inhibit your range of motion and cause muscles stiffness and aches.
3. Reduces headaches
If you have ever suffered from tension and stress headaches, you will know how debilitating they can be. Along with a healthy diet and plenty of hydration, stretching can help to reduce headaches by easing the tension causing them.
4. Encourages a sense of calm
Focusing on stretches is a great way to clear the mind. This means it’s perfect for combining with meditation and mindfulness.
5. Boosts circulation
Stretching helps to increase blood flow which in turn leads to reduced muscle soreness and reduced recovery time post-workout.
6. Increases flexibility
Flexibility is not just reserved for those who want to perform the splits, it’s also a fundamental component of staying healthy. This is because it enables you to perform everyday tasks with ease and delays the signs of ageing.
Now that you know how important stretching is, what is the best way to turn it into a regular habit?
Start off small. After each workout, aim to do 1 minute of stretches for a few days. When those two days are up, aim for 2 minutes of stretches, then after a few more days, 3 minutes and so on, until you are regularly doing at least 10-15 minutes after each workout.
You can also incorporate stretches before your workout, using the same incremental method. Focus on the muscles groups that enable mobility, such as hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, and shoulders. By introducing a stretching routine slowly before and after your workout, you will have a regular routine in no time.
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