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Why Does Stretching Feel Good? 6 Reasons Why

Why Does Stretching Feel Good 


Have you ever felt a wave of pleasure washing over you when you wake up and stretch your arms wide? Or perhaps you find solace in a few minutes of stretching after a strenuous workout, and the world begins to feel right again. 

Most of us have experienced a soothing sensation after a moment of stretching. But what’s the secret behind this seemingly peaceful phenomenon? Why does stretching feel good?

Below, we’ll explore 6 psychological and physiological reasons behind the joy of stretching. 

6 Reasons Stretching Feels Good 

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends stretching at least twice a week for 60 seconds. 

Stretching brings relief as if all the tension is melting away. You can almost feel your muscles sigh in contentment. This often makes people question the underlying phenomenon that makes this activity feel good. 

Here are 6 common reasons stretching brings comfort. 

1 - Boosts Circulation 

The National Library of Medicine mentions that our body responds by improving blood flow when we move our muscles. Here’s how better blood flow helps. 

  • When we stretch, our muscles demand more oxygen to support this activity. This increased oxygen supply promotes energy production and muscle function. As a result, we feel refreshed. 
  • Stretching and boosted circulation also facilitate the transport of nutrients to muscle tissues. Nutrients like amino acids, glucose, and electrolytes are critical for muscle health. Their absorption henceforth enhances the sense of vitality. 
  • Enhanced blood flow also removes metabolic waste products like lactic acid from muscles, which may otherwise lead to discomfort and soreness. This relief contributes to the feelings of relaxation. 

2 - Releases Endorphins 

    Our central nervous system and pituitary gland release endorphins that work as neurotransmitters. Research shows that they have better pain-relieving properties than morphine

    Generally, endorphins are released after activities like eating and exercising. Although there’s minimal research on whether stretching releases endorphins, some believe it may have pain-relieving effects since a study shows stretching might help relieve menstruation pain

    The pain-alleviating effects are thought to be due to the production of beta-endorphins and the relaxation of blood vessels. 

    3 - Alleviates Muscle Tension

      Studies show that stretching before and after exercising helps reduce muscle soreness. This implies that stretching decreases muscle tension and provides relief and comfort. Here are a few reasons why. 

      • Stretching involves elongating muscle fibers, which directly addresses the tension in muscles. As a result, it promotes muscle relaxation and a sense of relief.  (Read more on how to release chronically tight muscles.)
      • It allows you to target specific areas of muscle tension. Gently stretching and massaging these spots helps release tension and reduce pain.

      You can enroll in a Flexible Back Program if you seek to build long-lasting flexibility. Not only will you experience better flexibility, but you’ll also feel your energy levels soaring. 

      4 - Enhances Flexibility

        Research highlights that regular stretching may help boost flexibility, especially for sedentary people. Besides, since our flexibility naturally decreases with aging, stretching helps improve it. Here’s how it enhances flexibility and makes us feel good. 

        • When you stretch, you lengthen a muscle's individual fibers. Consistent stretching leads to better-resting muscle length. This enhanced length lets the muscle stretch further before reaching its limit, leading to improved flexibility. 
        • Stretching may stimulate the production of synovial fluid - a fluid that lubricates joints. Lubricated joints move freely, which leads to a better overall range of motion. (Read more about the role of synovial fluid in how to pop your lower back.)

        5 - Activates Parasympathetic Nervous System

          Our Parasympathetic Nervous System plays a role in reducing stress and allowing our body to relax. Studies reveal that stretching helps activate our parasympathetic nervous system, consequently inducing feelings of calmness and comfort. 

          This implies that because stretching plays a role in alleviating stress, it could be another reason it makes us feel good. 

          Besides, stretching promotes the relaxation response, which is the opposite of the “fight or flight” response activated during the sympathetic nervous system. 

          When we stretch, our body perceives it as a form of relaxation and self-care, activating the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing stress hormones like cortisol. 

          6 - Improves Posture

            Muscle tension often takes a toll on our posture. For instance, it may pull our spine into a position that puts unnecessary pressure on our neck, back, and other core muscles. 

            Research shows that regular stretching combined with major strengthening exercises may help enhance poor posture. 

            As such, it reduces strain on joints and muscles. This alignment also increases circulation and breathing and eases discomfort, contributing to our well-being. 

            Tips for Safe Stretches

            Although stretching offers numerous perks, correctly doing it is crucial to maximize its benefits primarily because improper techniques can adversely affect your body. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you plan to embark on this journey.

          1. Consider warming up first. Warming up before any workout is recommended because it supplies more oxygen to your muscles and enhances movement. Therefore, begin with light aerobic activity or dynamic stretches to improve your blood flow. This will prepare your muscles for static stretching. 
          2. Focus on the form. Paying attention to proper technique is crucial. Consider maintaining a good posture and engaging your core muscles. Experts recommend avoiding excessive or jerky movements as they may lead to injuries. 
          3. Breathe deeply. Inhale before you stretch and exhale as you ease into the stretch. Breathing deeply promotes flexibility and helps relax your body. 
          4. Avoid bouncing. As a rule of thumb, consider holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds. You must avoid bouncing at all costs because it may lead to overstretching muscles and an injury. 
          5. Target major muscles. Focus on areas like the shoulders, neck, back, hips, and legs. Make sure you stretch both sides evenly to avoid muscle imbalance. 
          6. Progress gradually. It is always recommended to start with easy stretches and gradually enhance the intensity and duration of stretches. This gives your body time to improve flexibility and make lengthy stretching sessions possible. 
          7. Watch out for pain. Stretching can be mildly uncomfortable but not painful. So, if you encounter any sort of pain, ease off the stretch immediately. 
          8. Be consistent. Consistent stretching yields better results than sporadic sessions. Therefore, aim for a few stretches daily to drive results. 
          9. Stay hydrated. Dehydration often leads to muscle cramps, which can be painful during stretching. Make sure you drink enough water to keep your muscles functioning optimally. But how much is enough water? This research might help you find out.  
          10. Listen to your body. Everyone’s body works differently. Make sure you know your body’s limits and respect its signals. Avoid forcing a stretch when it doesn’t feel right.

            Different Types of Stretches 

            One of the best things about stretching is that you do not need to invest in any special equipment to begin your journey. Instead, you can do it anywhere, anytime. 

            Here are 3 types of stretches you can incorporate into your daily life. 

          12. Static Stretching. This involves holding a single position to stretch a specific muscle, typically for 15-30 seconds. It’s an effective stretch to improve flexibility and is commonly used in cool-down routines. 
          13. Dynamic Stretching. This type of stretching is slightly tricky compared to the former because it isn’t static. It involves controlled movements that mimic activities we typically perform during a workout. They help warm up muscles, boost mobility, and improve a range of motions. 
          14. PNF Stretching (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation). PNF stretching is one of the most popular stretching types. It combines both isometric muscle contractions and passive stretching. Generally, it is done with a partner and helps quickly increase flexibility by engaging muscle reflexes. Therapists also use this stretching type to regain their motion after an injury.


            The delightful sensation after a stretch often leaves us wondering, “Why does stretching feel good?”

            When we stretch, our muscles elongate and blood flow increases. 

            Consequently, our bodies respond by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and alleviates stress. 

            Stretching also offers numerous physical benefits, like better flexibility and improved posture. 

            Overall, this activity demonstrates a powerful connection between mind and body and provides us with a simple yet effective tool to nurture our well-being. 

            So, consider adding a few stretches to your daily routine to boost your overall well-being - your body will thank you.


            What Does a Good Stretch Feel Like?

            A good stretch feels like a satisfying, gentle pull in your muscles. 

            You might notice improved blood flow, warmth, and a sense of relief as your body loosens up. It’s a rejuvenating and refreshing pause in your day. 

            What Happens If You Stretch Everyday?

            Daily stretching reduces muscle tension, enhances flexibility, and improves posture. In fact, Harvard Medical School suggests that occasional stretching has only short-lived benefits

            Therefore, indulging in this activity regularly will do the trick if you seek to reap the rewards of stretching. 

            Does Stretching Burn Calories? 

            Stretching itself doesn’t burn calories. Although it slightly increases blood flow and metabolic rate, the calorie burn is significantly less compared to strenuous activities like strength training and cardio. 

            Stretching is primarily used to relieve muscle tension and improve overall well-being. 

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