Muscle functions mainly in two modes the ‘fight or flight’ (sympathetic), and ‘rest and digest’ (parasympathetic) which are controlled by the nervous system. Whenever we stretch, parasympathetic mode gets triggered and we feel relaxed and calm. On stretching, endorphins are released by our pituitary gland and we experience the analgesic effect. During sleep, our muscles get contracted due to which muscle cells also shrink but while stretching the blood circulation improves and the muscles release unnecessary tension caused due to contraction, and thus, we feel so good.
Have you had a pleasurable experience and felt refreshing while doing or after doing stretching? If you are an avid runner or a cyclist, you must be doing some stretching exercises before the workout. If you are someone who loves and practice yoga regularly, you must be enjoying the pleasant and refreshing moments. For most of the athletes and fitness freaks, stretching in the morning or before the workout is their routine. They know the importance of stretching before and after the workout such as running, cycling, swimming, etc. If you are a follower of soccer or tennis or any other sports, you must be knowing that before the start of the game or during practice sessions, the players do different stretching exercises. Now you might be thinking why does stretching feel so good? Or what makes this stretching process so enjoyable? Or why we feel refreshed after stretching?
Reasons why it feels so good to stretch?
According to medical experts, there are various biological reasons why stretching feels so good and refreshing. Some of the factors that contribute to this pleasant feeling are as follows:
Stretching release endorphins
We know that endorphin is the chemical produced and released by the pituitary gland in our body that helps to relieve stress and pain. It is one of the four primary chemicals that are responsible for positive emotions such as happiness. This endorphin gets released during stretching which helps us to reduce our stress and we feel happy and energetic.
Removal of the metabolic waste
During the night time, lymph gets accumulated lymph vessels which contains the metabolic waste products. During stretching these lymphatic vessels get compressed due to muscles and metabolic waste is transferred from tissues to the central circulation. In this way, stretching increases the circulation of lymph fluid and helps to remove metabolic waste, bacteria, and other particles that boosts the immune system.
Increase in blood circulation
During rest or sleep, our breathing process and heart rate slow down and when we perform stretching, it increases the heart rate which increases the blood circulation in our body. This improvement in the blood circulation allows to remove toxic waste and to transport oxygen to different body parts. Thus, we feel more energetic and fresh after stretching.
Release of muscle tension
During our sleep, the muscle movement is almost negligible which causes our body to contract. This contraction causes muscle cells to shrink and creates tension and stiffness in the muscles. When we stretch our body, the unnecessary stress and stiffness in the muscles get released and we feel relaxed.
Stimulates parasympathetic nervous system
Muscles in our body are controlled nervous system which operates them in two modes the ‘fight or flight’ (sympathetic), and ‘rest and digest’ (parasympathetic). Stretching triggers the activities by the controlled parasympathetic nervous system and thus, we experience calm and relaxed.
What are the benefits of stretching?
- Regular stretching increases flexibility and motion of the body
- Stretching increases blood circulation in the body
- Helps to release stress
- Increases focus and can boost your performance