What Is Stretching?
Stretching is a physiological exercise. Every human being can and needs to stretch, no matter our age, weight, education, skills or physical conditioning.
I consider stretching to be the most fundamental of all aspects of physical fitness, among which are also strength, balance, cardiovascular fitness and agility.
The purpose of stretching is increased flexibility for increased bodily freedom.
Stretching is elongating our muscles, making them more supple, more resilient, more able to bounce back. It helps to optimize posture, as well as reduce and eliminate aches, pains and stiffness. Stretching can help prevent diseases, surgeries, injuries, tears and pulls. Implemented wisely, it can easily increase our range of motion for when we go to play sports or dance or do activities we love to do or hope to do. More importantly, stretching can make daily living so much more pleasant and manageable, allowing us to react to surprises — like when we lose our balance — or to merely get from point A to point B smoothly and uneventfully.
Stretching is not only necessary and essential for outward performance and protection, but can also be very useful for slowing down and reversing aging; optimizing digestion; improving circulation; and maximizing energy and well-being.
What’s more, stretching can be a lot of fun and highly satisfying. I love stretching. Stretching rocks.
What Is Flexibility?
I like the definition of flexibility being the quality of bending easily without breaking. Stretching is the act of increasing movement in a range. Flexibility is more of a measure of being able to stretch.
Someone with poor flexibility in a certain area of their body, like their neck or their low back, has a smaller range of motion (ROM) in that area. Their movement is limited. On the other hand, someone with excellent flexibility in those same areas can usually bend and twist with ease and often with no pain or tightness.
I strongly encourage everyone to get their stretching game on to improve flexibility and discover a new world with greater ease and fewer physical limitations. Anyway, stretching can be a great, feel-good way to either get our feet wet with adopting our very own personal fitness program — or with taking our performance to the next level.