What are the Benefits of Stretching?

Jacob Queen

According to most experts, the main benefits of stretching are increased range of motion and an improved flow of blood to the muscles. Some experts also suggest that stretching helps in avoiding muscle injuries, but research has put this claim into doubt, at least for certain kinds of activities. Stretching may also have the potential to reduce muscle aches, and some people use stretching as a way to calm their nerves or relax their bodies.

A woman stretching.
A woman stretching.

Improving range of motion is one of the more well-known benefits of stretching. As people age, they often gradually lose their ability to move their joints fully. Stretching can help fight against this tendency, and it can potentially help older people maintain their mobility.

Woman stretching her sides.
Woman stretching her sides.

Improving range of motion can also be especially important for people who have suffered some kind of injury. After being injured, people may have to spend a long period of time without moving, which may cause their muscles to atrophy or tighten. Healing these injuries by bringing blood to the muscles while simultaneously improving range of motion can be one of the more important benefits of stretching.

Stretching helps improve range of motion, as well as blood flow.
Stretching helps improve range of motion, as well as blood flow.

Athletes have often used stretching regimens as a way to make their muscles more limber. Some training programs were built around the idea that stretching would reduce the number of pulled muscles, which are a very common injury in many sports activities. Research studies have generally shown that there is no difference in injury levels among athletes who don’t stretch compared to those who do. Many experts suggest this is because most sports don’t require an extreme range of motion to perform the basic movements, and muscle pulls happen more often because of sudden movements than because of movements beyond a certain range.

Stretching can help prevent -- and heal -- injuries such as pulled muscles.
Stretching can help prevent -- and heal -- injuries such as pulled muscles.

Some experts say that an improved range of motion could be more important in avoiding injury for certain sports which are very demanding of flexibility. Examples would include things like martial arts, where high kicking could potentially lead to injuries if the individual isn’t flexible enough. Stretching can also potentially relax a person’s muscles, and for this reason, some people consider stress relief to be one of the more useful benefits of stretching. The lessening in muscle tension might also have benefits for pain relief, especially for certain disorders. Stretching is a very common method of dealing with back pain, for example, and while its effectiveness in this area is unproven, many people swear by it.

Athletes have often used stretching regimens as a way to make their muscles more limber.
Athletes have often used stretching regimens as a way to make their muscles more limber.

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Discussion Comments

Heavanet

I think that doing a stretching regimen daily also increases lung strength, because these exercises help to regulate your breathing. To increase this benefit, breath deeply and slowly as you do your stretching exercise regimen. Over time, you will feel the benefits in your lungs as well as in muscles all over your body.

Rundocuri

@ocelot60- I have the same problem, and neck stretches definitely help ease headache pain for me. I also get them less often than I use to.

The best way to get the best results from neck stretches is to stretch your head to each side as far as it will go. Start with one said and hold it for the count of 30, then switch to the other side. Do this at least 4 times on each side at least once each day.

Over time, you should find that your neck is less stiff and you have less reoccurring headaches.

Ocelot60

What are the best stretching exercises to use for alleviating headaches? I get them frequently due to stiff muscles in my neck.

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