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Why Stretching Is Your Most Important Exercise

  November 03, 2018

By Jan Tregre, DPT, Southern Physical Therapy

Stretching increases your blood flow and circulation, sending oxygen to your brain for a clearer mind and more cheerful mood. If you don’t stretch during your fitness routine, you may be risking injury. Stretching can improve posture, reduce aches and pains, increase your self-confidence, and give you a better outlook on life.

Here are some important benefits of stretching:
  • Improves flexibility and joint range of motion
  • Reduces arthritis pain by improving joint surface circulation, making it easier to move
  • Corrects posture by loosening muscles that get tight with increased time sitting
  • Decreases risk of injury by preparing muscles for optimal performance
  • Increases blood flow to muscles which may reduce workout soreness
  • Helps to reduce cholesterol and hardening of the arteries along with exercise and diet
  • Calms the mind and releases physical and mental tension
  • Reduces physiological and mental effects of stress on your body
  • Increases energy level, reduces fatigue and leaves you feeling invigorated
Important tips on stretching:
  • Do a warmup before stretching or working out  \
  • Target the specific muscles you’ll be using in your workout with your warmup and stretching
  • Stretch after your warmup and then again after your workout when your muscles are warm
  • Focus on your most tight muscles with a daily stretching routine
  • Increase flexibility with prolonged stretching, holding each stretch position for 30 seconds
  • Stretch regularly at least 3 times a week for at least 10 to as much as 45 minutes each time 
  • Attend a class on stretching, flexibility or yoga to stick to an effective stretching schedule
Modern day applications for stretching:
  • A complete stretching program to increase flexibility is important for athletic performance.  However, prolonged stretching is not recommended before the big game since it can actually decrease muscle contraction activity, temporarily reducing strength. Establishing a flexibility routine like yoga or Pilates in addition to aerobic and strength training is the best way to go.
  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain is commonly caused by poor posture, which can be nearly eliminated by stretching. So much of our time is spent sitting at computers, resulting in tight chest muscles and tight hamstring and hip muscles. Stretching these muscles and restoring range of motion of the spine, shoulder, hip, and knee joints will reduce pain and injury. 
  • One of the biggest health concerns today is stress. Stretching reduces the physiological effects of stress on your body by increasing blood flow and natural endorphins, and increasing oxygen to the body through deep breathing and relaxation. Stretching also reduces the mental and emotional effects of stress by giving you a reason to stop, rest your mind, and focus on doing something good for yourself that will improve your health.
Start your stretching routine by focusing on major muscle groups, including neck and shoulders, upper and lower back, pelvis and hips and legs. Stretching these major muscle groups will give you the most benefits throughout your whole body. Once you establish a good stretching routine, keep it up! The more you stretch the more benefits you will gain. Stretching is a great way to relieve the strain from your busy day and recharge your body and your mind.

Jan Tregre is the primary clinician at Southern Physical Therapy, located at 7 Willow Bend Drive in the North Lake Serene Office Park on Hwy. 98 West in the Oak Grove area of Hattiesburg, MS. Dr. Tregre treats all physical therapy and rehabilitation injuries and diagnoses with specialties in dry needling, manual spinal therapy, therapeutic massage, and pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation. For more information on stretching classes and instruction, call 601-336-8287 or visit our website at
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November 03, 2018
Categories:  Physical|Fitness


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