Before a hard workout or after a long nap, the first thing we do is stretch. And for some weird reason, this simple action does so much for us. Have you wondered why it feels so good? There’s actually more than one reason. One of them has to do something with an engineering defect in all animals that evolution seemed to ignore. The capillaries that bring oxygen, glucose and every other useful material to the muscle cells need. These capillaries shrink when the muscle is contracted, making it difficult to get rid of the unwanted materials. Stretching the muscle reverses this process and the muscle gets what it needs and rids itself of the toxins.
The natural urge to stretch is related to our modern sedentary lifestyles, and the urge is stronger for those who have an office job. Conforming to the same position for a long time tightens the muscles and joints which can eventually lead to pain and injury. For example, if you tend to hunch back a lot, you may back pain. Stretching is the best way to get rid of this tightness.
Stretching is a unique and unfamiliar action that actually releases any unnecessary tension your muscles were holding on to. Tension usually develops when you’ve been sitting in the same position for a long time. that’s why if you sit in front of a computer all day, like many of us, taking a break to move around and stretch will do a lot more for you than you think.
A small action like stretching has a big impact on our physical health, what you didn’t know is that it’s just as important for the chemical balance in our brains. You’ve probably learned in grade school that exercising releases the feel-good hormone, endorphin. The same logic can be applied to stretching.
Endorphins work in a quite unique way. Once this hormone is released, we experience something called analgesic effect which essentially means that this activates signals to the brain to indicate you are in pain or discomfort. To compensate for the pain, your body releases endorphins to relieve this pain and put you into a state of euphoria. When you stretch, the same thing happens except it’s not as strong, it’s only a mild version of this process.
If you’re like most people, you probably stretch in the morning while yawning. The weird thing is that the simple act of stretching is so unanimous between all of us and we didn’t even know that it has a name, which is Pandiculation. It actually plays an important part in realigning your muscles after sleeping stiffly all night. It also gets your blood flowing since your heart rate is lowest when you wake up. Stretching may just be as important as your morning cup of joe, if not more. Pandiculation isn’t just for humans, even animals do it and they look much cuter while doing it!
Yoga is closely linked to stretching and flexibility and that’s why is one of the best forms of exercise. Many people love yoga for its calming and relaxing effects. It is much more different than regular exercise which is vigorous and strenuous. Yoga, on the other hand, is more suitable for someone who has a stressful lifestyle. Indulging in this form of exercise can help release a lot of tension and stress. So put this amazing piece of information to use and start stretching!
Until Next Time,
Team Doctor ASKY!