9 Benefits of Stretching That Will Convince You to Do It Daily

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It helps prevent everyday aches and pains

A lot of modern-day aches and pains—lower back pain is a perfect example—happen because we spend so much time being inactive, causing the muscles to get stiff and achy. “There’s fluid within the joints, and when you stop moving, the fluid does, too, and joints become stiff and tight,” Beldini says. Stretching and improving flexibility and mobility can boost circulation and keep the joints feeling pliable and less stiff. “Motion is lotion,” Beldini says.

Research in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that weekly yoga or intensive stretching effectively reduces lower back pain and improves back functioning. The study looked at 228 adults with chronic low back pain. Ninety-two people took a weekly yoga class, 91 did conventional stretching, and 45 read a self-care book. They found that yoga classes were more effective than self-care books but not better than stretching at improving functioning and reducing symptoms.

Without properly stretching and strengthening, using your lower back muscles all day long—yes, they engage the entire time you sit at your desk—can lead to chronic pain, Barr-Anderson says.

(Related: What Causes Lower Back Pain in Women?)

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It helps you cool down after a workout

“Stretching tired and sore muscles after a workout is essential because it enhances flexibility and reduces muscle tension,” DiGiorgio says. Stretching post-workout isn’t going to stop you from getting sore completely—delayed-onset muscle soreness is from microtears in your muscles, which stretching won’t magically heal—but reducing tension might make you feel less sore overall.

A major benefit of stretching after you work out? “Your muscles are already warm, which will help you ease into the stretches,” DiGiorgio says. It also gives you a chance to slow down gradually. “Stretching and breathing will help you feel restored and relaxed as opposed to just stopping cold.”

Stopping abruptly can make you lightheaded or even pass out. Cooling down slowly allows your heart rate and body temperature to gradually return to homeostasis, Barr-Anderson says.

(Related: How to Treat the Most Common Aches and Pains Caused by Pandemic Life)

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It can be really relaxing

“You get the mental benefits of stretching when you add something like deep breathing to it,” Barr-Anderson says. Yoga is the perfect combo of stretching and breathing.

You don’t have to take a formal yoga class to reap the relaxing benefits, though. Pairing slow, controlled, deep breathing with your stretches helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and put you at ease, Barr-Anderson says.

(Related: 3 Everyday Ailments You Can Relieve With Yoga)

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