BlogPhysical Activity12 Reasons Why Stretching Feels So Good: Checked and Approved

12 Reasons Why Stretching Feels So Good: Checked and Approved

Let your body be your instrument. Use it wisely!

Taisiia Dobrozorova
Written by Taisiia Dobrozorova on August 09, 2021

Table of contents

Whether you’ve noticed or not, stretchings are an irreplaceable part of our everyday routine. When we knead the body in the morning, do exercises, take out something from the top shelf or bend over to tie our shoelaces, each time we strain certain muscles. These simple and familiar movements are called body stretch. 

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The need to stretch from time to time after a long stay in one position is caused by instincts inherent in all mammals. Scientifically speaking, stretchings(1) are a series of movements that promote maintaining the muscles supple and increasing joint range of motion. 

The nature of the stretching appears to be the one of the reasons why we feel better after practicing it, but not the only one. It is commonly performed by people without fitness education, fitness trainers, athletes, sportsmen, and everyone who cares about their health. So, what is so beneficial and pleasant about them at the same time?

Overview: 12 reasons why the body stretching feels so good

1. Endorphin boost

Endorphin boost, or it’s better to say, endorphin release occurs during physical activity and gives us a feeling of joy.

Endorphins(2) are chemicals generated by the neurological system to help people with stress and pain-management. Most of them accumulate in the hypothalamus, although the whole body is involved in their production. Stretchings start endorphin release(3) via tension and relaxation of muscles. 

So, as long as endorphins are stress relievers and the producers of happy emotions, each stretch helps us lift our mood and avoid depression.

My verdict: True. This feeling came gradually and energized me for several hours. Actually, I didn't feel pure enjoyment after stretching, but it definitely reduced stress.

2. Better circulation

Because of how stretchings are increasing blood flow and helping push the blood through your arteries, it is crucial to notice their beneficial impact on the whole process of blood circulation. Short-term improvements sometimes lead to long-term advantages for your vascular system(4). 

My verdict: Not noticeable. It may be difficult to trace the effect of stretches on the circulatory system. Still, I didn’t pay attention to any significant differences in well-being. I managed to achieve more visible results performing complex workouts with different types of exercises.

3. Soreness prevention

Regular stretches effectively work for reducing muscular discomfort.  They can help for tense joints and muscles, especially for people with a sedentary lifestyle. This is true since it not only helps to reduce muscular pain, but it also helps to promote muscle recovery. The benefits of physical activity and exercise should not be underestimated. 

My verdict: True. I can sit at the computer for a long time during the working day. A few stretching breaks relieve muscle tension in less than 10 minutes.

4. Improved flexibility

Flexibility of your body is directly related to your ROM (Range of motion) indicator which, together with muscle performance, acutely increases during stretches. Passive stretching (with no rate change for a period of time) has the greatest results of changes in flexibility while inducing lower force and power. 

Thus, stretches aim to improve joint flexibility by lengthening musculotendinous and other elastic tissues(5) across the joint for a short period of time (30–60 seconds).

My verdict: True. By nature, I have a fairly flexible body, but only thanks to stretching practices I manage to maintain it in this shape. Stretching makes my muscles more whippy and elastic.

5. Parasympathetic activation

Stretchings may also influence your parasympathetic activation. It stimulates the nervous system to cope with stress's psychological consequences. The state of relaxation and calmness may continue for up to 5 minutes after stretching.

Since a parasympathetic nerve-dominant state(6) is activated after the completion of stretches, and not during active stretching, it is best to use a passive form of stretching to achieve muscle relief.

My verdict: False. Talking about endorphins, I’ve already mentioned that stretchings are great stress relievers, and not only for 5 minutes. I was experiencing the feeling of relaxation for an hour or so after seated butterfly stretch and head-to-knee forward bend.

6. Good psychological impact

Due to endorphin release and stress relief functions stretches have a positive psychological impact in general. They improve the work of many body systems and increase the level of self-satisfaction. Therefore, daily exercises and stretching can improve your mental well-being more effectively than any medication.

My verdict: True. A long enough stretch is no worse than any meditation. After all, stretching also requires concentration and patience. I felt my head free from thoughts and focused on the pulling feeling in the muscles. This practice is very helpful in maintaining psychological balance throughout the day.

7. Sleeping mode balancing

Studies(7) prove that healthy sleep is another important result of regular exercise. Equalization of sleep patterns occurs at the expense of endorphins release and a decrease in blood pressure. Just a few passive bedtime stretches will help you with deep sleep without nightmares.

My verdict: Not noticeable. After the evening workouts, I usually feel full of energy, which is not convenient for preparing your body for sleep. However, stretching is a softer type of exercise, with less stress. I didn’t feel a positive effect on my sleep patterns, but they didn’t do any harm either.

8. Posture correction

According to the research(8), body stretching also helps with posture correction and back pain. Just a few workout minutes a day can have a tangible effect. Strengthening the muscles of the back and core through stretching exercises helps achieve both a toned body and an ideal well-build posture.

My verdict: True. Stretches helped my muscles become more elastic. The long-term complex of stretchings on the back, shoulders and forearms is ideal if you want to correct your posture.

9. Toned skin

Fighting for skin beauty may definitely pose a challenge. That is why a lot of people start doing face exercises and stretches on an everyday basis. There is an undoubtful effect of regular stretching on the skin condition. It improves the elasticity of the skin and keeps it fresh and youthful for a long time.

My verdict: Not noticeable. I didn’t notice any difference in my skin condition, but it may be hard to observe, because of the experiment duration (1 week). 

10. Reduction of muscle compensation and discomfort

Seven studies(10) showed the effectiveness of stretching to prevent muscle compensation and musculoskeletal disorders. 

Our body follows the learned movements and quickly adapts to new postures. That is why spending the day in one sitting position can create such severe discomfort even a few hours after changing the position. Sciatica and sore muscles are just signs of stretches’ deficit and a lack of mobility during the day.

My verdict: True. I often felt stiffness in my muscles before I started to stretch regularly. Now this problem has magically disappeared.

11. Challenging back pain

Back pain and hurt muscles can haunt you in all your affairs. They interfere with your concentration and distract you from work.

So, if you suffer from back pain, you need to know that stretchenings is the way to cope with this problem. As long as most back pains are caused by poor posture, all you have to do is to start increasing muscular tone to support the spine. Exercises on the core and ab muscles do the best with this task.

My verdict: True. In addition to muscle compensation, back pain may accompany the symptoms of a sedentary lifestyle. There is nothing better than preventive stretching on a yoga mat or any surface that is comfortable for your back.

12. Physical and mental health improvement

If physical health is directly related to the workouts that we perform during the day, then mental health is indirectly related to our physical activity. 

Physical activity is becoming increasingly popular as a way to preserve and improve mental health. According to the research(11), it’s enough 20 to 40 minutes of aerobic activity to cheer up for several hours. Stretching is no exception. It's a great way to improve your well-being, mood state and self-esteem.

My verdict: True. Not only the endorphin release, but also the general attitude to improve your health, can significantly affect your wellbeing. Each time I did the stretching, I felt motivated for the whole day. I felt myself becoming stronger, more confident, and most importantly - a healthier person.

Benefits of stretching in the morning

Probably, waking up in the morning, you noticed that your body is rather clumsy and cannot bend as easily as during the day. This effect appears due to the accumulation of fluids along the back and more relaxed muscles. 

For this reason, when you wake up, stretching is extremely helpful. They start all the processes in the body and prepare you to run your business without any discomfort. To make the body elastic after sleep, you need to do just a few stretches. They will help to disperse the blood throughout the body and warm up the muscles.

5 home exercise stretches to try

Dedication to exercising just a few minutes a day can keep your time of fatigue, muscle pain, emotional and physical exhaustion. Here are some examples of home exercise stretches to try.

Side Lunge Stretch

  • Place your feet hip-width apart.
  • Squat down, then extend your right leg to the side.
  • Use your hands to support your hips as you shift your weight onto your bent leg.
  • You should feel a stretch in the inner thigh of your outstretched leg.
  • Stay in this position for at least 20 seconds, then straighten and change your legs.

Across-the-chest stretch

  • Stand up straight and stretch your arms forward in front of you.
  • Move your right hand to the left so that the elbow almost touches the left shoulder.
  • With the left hand, support the elbow of the right hand.
  • Stay in this position for 20-30 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your shoulder.
  • Relax and change your hand. Repeat a few times.

Neck Rotation Exercise

  • Straighten up and fix your head straight.
  • Turn your head 90 degrees to the right, looking over your shoulder.
  • Stretch your neck for 10-15 seconds, then return your head to its starting position.
  • Rotate your head to the left with the same movement.
  • Do several sets.

Trunk Twist

  • Sit straight with your legs extended and crossed.
  • Rotate your torso to the side with one arm extended forward and the other holding the floor behind your back for balance.
  • Stretch for 15-20 seconds, then change your hand and the side of the turn.
  • Repeat turns in different directions several times.

Uttanasana (or Standing Forward Bend)

  • Start standing straight up.
  • Place your feet together and extend your arms forward.
  • Bend down with your fingers reaching out to the floor.
  • Try to keep your hands close to your feet and rest on the floor with your entire palm.
  • Stay in this position for about 10 seconds. Then straighten up and repeat a few times.

Why you shouldn’t skip stretchings 

Of course, many of you are familiar with different types of exercises for body recomposition or losing weight. Remember that the greatest benefit is brought by light, but regular loads. Weight training is good for its purpose. Stretches, indeed, are suitable for any person and aim. 

You can either pick several types of workouts to perform them in the morning, or build a whole training plan based on stretching exercises. For this, fitness or yoga is best suited.

What about stretching after exercise(12)? This is another major reason not to reduce stretches. Besides avoiding joint strain, you decrease lactic acid when you decide not to have a break after exercises. Cool-down is not always the right choice. 

Reducing lactic acid is needed to avoid the pain after workouts. When exercising, you produce it and cause sore muscles. Stretches instead help relieve unnecessary discomfort.

Summing up: what is positive about daily stretch

Working out often appears pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. This is why stretches can be your lifeline. They do not need special equipment and a gym. It is enough just to get out of bed in the morning and stretch your muscles right on your rug. They have tremendous benefits for the body, from starting all processes to relieving unnecessary stress. 

No doubt, stretching is a direct road to endorphins and free happiness in a few minutes. They can make you emotionally resilient and mentally healthy. And only think about a well-established sleep regime!

Lastly, stretches often make it possible to dispense with treatment and surgery for problems with the musculoskeletal system. They make the body flexible and able to withstand any stress. Our advice is to stretch well and regularly!

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