9 things that happen to you when you stretch every day

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Few people think of stretching as a form of exercise, probably because it’s something we do a lot without apparent effort, unlike strength training or aerobics.

The effects of stretching are not that obvious; it does not help you sweat or lose a lot of weight. Stretching does not give you “chocolate bar” abs or release growth hormones (HGH) known to have many fitness benefits.

However, this relatively gentle form of exercise can keep you healthy and fit and is good for your body and mind.

1. Stretching increases flexibility

Sports coaches have always insisted that athletes place a lot of importance on stretching, both before and after workouts.

This is because stretching increases the flexibility of the body and reduces injuries on the court. Cats know that it’s not the “nine lives” that help them get back on their feet, but their great flexibility.

And how do they keep their bodies flexible, if not stretching all the time and between long naps. In fact, you will see all the animals stretch at one point or another during the day.

2. Stretching exercises help keep blood sugar lower.

Stretching certainly makes you more flexible, but the number one reason for doing stretching actually comes from an exciting new study that has shown that it reduces blood sugar levels. You may already know that strenuous exercise increases the production of insulin and the use of the hormone to push glucose from the blood into the tissues.

Contrary to what you might expect, spend 30 seconds in a stretching routine is equally effective in lowering blood glucose levels.

Surprisingly, the effect does not come from increased insulin production, but from the opening of capillaries in existing muscle tissue, which facilitates the movement of glucose into cells.

People with diabetes have a recurring problem with high blood sugar, either because their pancreas does not produce insulin, as in type I diabetes, or because their insulin production has decreased over the years. , as in type II diabetes.

In people with insulin resistance, the hormone is present, but it cannot be used due to the lack of sensitivity of the insulin receptors.

9 things that happen to you when you stretch every day
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High sugar levels can damage blood vessels and nerves and affect almost every other organ system in the body, severely damaging the kidneys, liver, heart and nervous system.

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Diabetes is considered the seventh leading cause of death, but it is an underlying cause of many other life-threatening illnesses, including high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke.

 

The high level of glucose in the blood is not a problem reserved for diabetics. In non-diabetics, a diet high in carbohydrates can cause high blood sugar levels for 1-2 hours after a meal.

Although their insulin production will eventually lower blood sugar, frequent episodes of high blood sugar can cause almost as much damage as true diabetes.

High blood sugar can also cause an overproduction of insulin, which gradually desensitizes insulin receptors, leading to insulin resistance. It is possible that this sets in motion a series of metabolic problems that can potentially lead to type II diabetes.

 

Stretching helps lower blood sugar by increasing the flexibility of the blood vessels that supply the muscles, which in turn allows more blood flow to muscle tissue when glucose can be used.

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3. Stretching helps reduce high blood pressure and its harmful effects

Blood pressure is the force exerted on the arteries when blood is pumped through them. It can have several causes such as obesity, diabetes, mineral imbalances and stress hormones which can raise a person’s blood pressure above the normal which is 120/80.

 

The anti-stress effect of stretching exercises done gently at a slow pace can directly contribute to lowering blood pressure. This is not surprising since we already know that the stress hormone cortisol can increase blood pressure.

The increased pressure on the artery walls damages and stiffens them. But stretching can counteract the stiffening effect of the arteries created by hypertension and protect you from many deadly conditions associated with high blood pressure, including atherosclerosis, kidney failure, and heart disease.

4. Regular stretching can reverse atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is another progressive disease problem that, like diabetes, has a far-reaching effect on several organ systems. It begins with the buildup of plaque on the inner walls of the arteries that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to various organs and tissues in the body such as the kidneys and heart muscle.

Plaque is mainly made up of cholesterol and calcium, and its build-up on the artery walls causes the blood vessels to narrow.

9 things that happen to you when you stretch every day
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This naturally reduces blood flow to the respective organs, which reduces their effectiveness. For example, atherosclerosis in the coronary artery supplying the heart muscles can lead to partial blocks that cause heart pain or angina, or complete block that can lead to a heart attack.

Atherosclerosis in the carotid artery that carries blood to the brain increases the risk of stroke. The narrowing of the peripheral arteries reduces the blood supply to the hands and legs, which causes pain and numbness.

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When the renal arteries are affected, chronic kidney disease develops, which ultimately leads to kidney failure.

In addition to narrowing the lumen of the blood vessels, atherosclerosis stiffens the arteries. We have seen that stretching exercises can increase the flexibility of blood vessels and improve blood circulation. It has also been observed that the regular practice of stretching can gradually reduce the plaque in the affected arteries.

5. Stretching keeps muscles healthy

Muscles grow or remain atrophied on the basis of the principle of their use or not use. These muscles that we exercise more often develop well, while the less used tend to decline.

When you sit for prolonged periods of time, your thighs and calf and gluteal muscles remain inactive, while some other muscles in the lower back and around the knees are overworked and sore.

Stretching can prevent muscle atrophy of the glutes and other underused muscles and provide pain relief for those who are tight.

We have seen how stretching improves blood flow to the muscles. The increased blood supply provides additional oxygen as well as other nutrients to the muscles. The elimination of metabolic wastes from the tissues also becomes more efficient.

6. Stretching can increase range of motion (ROM) in joints

The muscles are attached to the joints of the bones by hard, but flexible tendons. Similar tissue between the bones helps the joints stay flexible. Unless these tissues are kept in good condition with frequent stretching movements, the connective tissue protein collagen weaves a network of fibers.

It causes them to stiffen, reducing their ability to stay flexible. When this happens, the range of motion (ROM) of the joints becomes drastically reduced. Stretching helps break down the collagen network and keeps tissues flexible, allowing for greater ROM.

Aging naturally stiffens tissues and reduces ROM, but in people with diabetes, high blood sugar levels make glycated collagen, making tissue harder, much less flexible.

. This is one reason why “frozen shoulder” is a common problem with diabetics. Along with aerobic and strength training exercises, stretching exercises are also important for diabetics.

7-Stretching helps correct structural imbalances and improve posture

Our body has bilateral symmetry in the musculoskeletal framework, and the S-shaped curvature of the spine helps to create this balance.

When we repeatedly do tasks that cause imbalances, like carrying weight – a baby or a sling bag – to one side, some muscles become more tense while their counterparts remain contracted. The same happens when using only one hand or one leg for heavy, repetitive work or activity.

Likewise, when we spend a lot of time sitting in front of computer screens, our shoulder muscles are strained inward, while the chest muscles remain tight. You can see the reverse state in pregnant women who bend backwards making an effort to balance the weight of the larger belly.

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Stretching exercises help relieve tension in both overloaded and contracted muscles and restore the structural integrity of the body.

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8. Regular stretches keep the back secure.

Back problems can be triggered by heavy lifting or sudden twisting movements, especially in people who haven’t trained their spine flexibility with enough stretching activities.

The vertebrae that make up the spine are held in place by the surrounding muscles. 23 pairs of vertebral discs made of cartilage tissue keep the bony vertebrae separate from each other and from the spinal cord which runs through the spine. The slightest movement can injure the spinal cord, causing mild to sharp pain.

9 things that happen to you when you stretch every day
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Lack of exercise can make the cartilage tissue stiff and inflexible. When this happens, the sudden twisting and straining can cause tears in the cartilage.

Sitting for long hours without stretching stiffens the spine and causes back pain. Tight hamstrings can also cause lower back pain.

Stretching exercises involving bending and rotating movements help strengthen the core muscles surrounding the spine and keep the discs flexible.

Hamstring stretching exercises, as well as getting up from the seat every 20-30 minutes for a few minutes of general stretching exercises can keep your back in good condition. And don’t wait until you have back pain to do it.

9. Stretching improves mental health

We’re not going to dwell too much on this here, but people who do stretching exercises regularly report improved sleep quality, mood, and self-esteem.

Do not take this as subjective data, as there are a lot of solid scientific reasons to support their claim. For some, stretching triggers the release of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter associated with positive feelings and good sleep.

Dopamine can improve attention, learning and also memory.

The positive effects stretching has on blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and general cardiovascular health may also improve mental well-being because the above conditions are associated with depression and swings. mood.

Stretching should ideally be done at an easy pace, accompanied by proper breathing techniques. A lying position should be maintained for a minimum of 20-30 seconds for optimal results.

Yoga and Pilates can be good stretching exercises, but make sure you involve all muscle groups, and repeat them 4-5 times a week.

How to stretch properly

Nothing like a video to learn the right techniques:

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