Skip to main content

As the situation in Ukraine evolves, businesses should be mindful of potential risks to their people, assets, operations, or supply chains in the region and globally. Marsh, as part of the Marsh McLennan family of companies, has created a page with information, tools, and resources related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Please visit the page for the latest information.

March 23, 2023

9 seriously awesome benefits of stretching

When it comes to touting physical activity, cardio and strength training get their fair share of attention. But the third major type of exercise—stretching—also deserves love. Here are some key reasons to get your stretch on.

Stretching primes your muscles for exercise.

If the first mile of every run feels like straight-up torture, you need to start warming up with dynamic stretches like leg swings, high knees and bodyweight squats and lunges. “A dynamic warm-up increases blood flow, moves the joint fluidly and mimics the movements that will be completed during the workout,” says Jacquelyn Brennan, CSCS, a personal trainer and founder of Pilates + Coffee in Chicago.

Stretching improves your posture.

Improving your posture comes down to more than just willing yourself to sit up straight. “Tight muscles are synonymous with weak muscles, which lead to postural compensations,” Brennan says. Get into a regular stretching routine, and one of the benefits will be better posture.

Stretching eases back pain.

“Believe it or not, back pain may come from tight hamstrings,” says certified clinical exercise physiologist Tara Romeo, CSCS, sports performance director at Professional Athletic Performance Center in Garden City, New York. That’s because tight hammies increase the stress on the muscles surrounding your spine and in your lower back. Both yoga and stretching have been shown to lessen lower back pain.

Stretching improves your exercise form.

Tight muscles don’t do anything good for your exercise form. After all, when your muscles start compensating for each other, proper biomechanics go out the window, Brennan says. By correcting muscular imbalances, static stretching helps you perform any exercise with better form, both improving your performance and preventing injury (more on that next).

Stretching prevents injury.

Performing dynamic stretching prior to exercise is important for preventing any of those “something snapped!” injuries that can occur when you work out with cold, tight muscles.

Stretching boosts your joint health.

Stretching is about way more than your muscles, though. It also moves your joints through their full range of motion (remember those prerun dynamic stretches we mentioned?), increasing the flexibility in your tendons, which connect your muscles to bones, so you’re less likely to suffer from runner’s knee or tennis elbow, Brennan says.

Stretching slashes stress.

Stress reduces blood flow, resulting in muscle tension and knots. Meanwhile, stretching increases blood flow to your muscles to ease tension and help you feel more relaxed, Romeo says. Plus, once your blood gets pumping to your muscles, it also reaches your brain, where it can effectively boost your mood, Brennan says.

Stretching helps you sleep better.

“Whether you sleep for five hours or eight hours, staying in one position for a length of time may cause you to feel stiff,” Romeo says. “Static stretching before going to bed will help relieve some tightness or cramping you may feel during the night.” Bonus: By reducing stress, you’ll have a better chance of actually falling asleep in the first place.

Stretching improves your flexibility.

“The saying ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ rings true. When we limit our body’s mobility, we become less mobile,” Brennan says. That’s because, without stretching, not only do your muscles and connective tissues become tighter, but your neurological system thinks that they should stay that way or else you’ll hurt yourself. A healthy dose of stretching, though, can make your muscles more flexible plus retrain your brain to let you move in ways you couldn’t before.

Used with permission. © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.