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I’ve been a massage therapist for nine years now so of course I work on many clients who suffer from tight muscles, muscle spasms, chronic pain, and limited range of motion. When I ask “Do you stretch?” 95% people either say “No, or not as much as I should.” Even if the client is physically active and works out they will neglect stretching. I think if it’s not burning calories or building muscles people think it’s a waste of time. I’ve actually been told that a few times. But, flexible muscles actually make working out much easier and it can help us avoid muscle strains. Here are 5 benefits of stretching:

1. INCREASES FLEXIBILITY Lack of flexibility causes your movement to become slower and less fluid and makes you more susceptible to muscle sprains, ligament strains, and other soft tissue injuries. The most effective way to increase your flexibility is by stretching.

2. IMPROVES CIRCULATION Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles bringing more nourishment to the muscles and removing waste byproducts.

3. IMPROVES BALANCE AND COORDINATION Improved balance minimizes accidents due to falls.

4. HELPS ALLEVIATE LOWER BACK PAIN Stiff and tight muscles in the lower back, hamstrings, hips, and buttocks, and thighs is one of the more common causes of low back pain. Stretching these muscles can alleviate the pain.

5. HELPS IMPROVE CARDIO VASCULAR HEALTH Recents studies have found that stretching can improve artery function and lower blood pressure. It actually keeps the arteries themselves more pliable and flexible.

When I work on clients who are inflexible and never stretch I will incorporate some gentle stretches. The reaction? ” Oh, that feels good.” So, come on people! START STRETCHING!