Stretching is usually highly underrated and overlooked. Most people view flexibility as a nice non-essential "bonus" to being active, or something they'd like to work on someday. Well, as a dance, fitness and nutrition professional, I'm here to tell you that flexibility is much more essential to your well-being than you may think. Let's begin with one of the most surprising facts about flexibility: A flexible body means flexible (and stronger) arteries. These more flexible arteries are better able to pump blood than their more rigid counterparts, hence promoting better blood flow throughout the body.
Stretching enables the body to naturally detox by breaking up toxins in the muscle fibers (aka releasing lymph fluid in the lymph nodes)-an essential aspect of weight loss. With the increase of circulation, and movement from stretching, lymph fluid is released.
While muscles are being stretched, lactic acid (the stuff that makes you feel sore after a workout) is also released, providing effective pain management. Regular stretching should always be incorporated into any fitness routine to make the most of it, as well as for chronic pain management. With consistent stretching, chronic pain can be lessened significantly because there is a constant blood flow to the injured muscles, providing them the much needed repair they regularly need.
One of my favorite ways to destress is to stretch. Not only does it provide great physical benefits, but also great emotional and mental relaxation as well.
The key to stretching effectively is to do a dynamic warm-up first that gets the blood flowing with both arm and leg movements for about 5 minutes. Then, hold each stretch for at least 90 seconds or longer. Just 5-10 minutes daily will greatly benefit not only your state of fitness, but your overall well- being too.