Stretching And Your Brain

Stretching And Your Brain

A woman stretching near a river

Assisted Stretching doesn’t just provide benefits for your physical health. It can provide mental health benefits too. This guide explores why and how. 

Issues with mental health are more common than most realize. For instance, mixed anxiety and depression impacts 8 in 100 people. General anxiety is believed to affect 6 in 100 people and this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless issues in life that can cause stress and anxiety. You might start the day filled with life and energy. But as you face different challenges and stress filled situations, your energy levels can quickly deplete and the tension can mount. You might find yourself struggling with even basic tasks. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you are taking steps to improve the functions and ability of your brain. Assisted stretching can be the right answer. 

People often assume that assisted stretching is only needed for those who are highly active physically. We tend to associate stretching with runners or those cemented in the world of fitness. However, the reality is that assisted stretching can provide significant benefits for everyone regardless of how much you exercise. Stretching is a process that keeps muscles strong, healthy and fit. It ensures that the right range of motion is effectively maintained. Without stretching muscles will become more tight and stiff overtime. If you don’t stretch, when you need your muscles, they will feel weaker. Eventually, as you age this will limit your mobility. It also increases the likelihood of a significant injury, break or muscle damage. 

Research also shows that assisted stretching is more important for an individual living a sedentary lifestyle. If you are sitting in a chair for most of the day, you may develop tight hamstrings in your legs which can lead to chronic pain. When you do exercise or move around, your body will be unprepared for the strain on your muscles.

So, stretching is important for the body, but how does it impact brain activity? 


Assisted Stretching And The Impact On Your Brain 

Assisted stretching has numerous impacts on the brain and the mind. When we stretch as part of a complete exercise plan, blood circulation to key pathways in the brain increases significantly. This is due to how the body reacts when it is moved into a fold. Many people use stretching as a way to cool down after an exercise physically. But stretching can also cool you down emotionally. During the process of stretching, your breathing becomes deeper and you inhale for a longer period. This triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. It relaxes the part of the brain that is focused on fight or flight. This helps us deal with situations that we find stressful or which cause anxiety. This also ensures that we are able to achieve mental clarity. That can be useful when completing various tasks throughout a typical work day. 


The Incredible Benefits Of Assisted Stretching For Your Mental Health

Assisted Stretching will provide various benefits for your mental health and ensure that you are improving all aspects of your wellbeing. Here are some of the key advantages. 


Tackle The Physical Symptoms Of Mental Health Issues 

It is often assumed that mental health issues exist only in the mind. This isn’t the case. There are various physical symptoms that are tied to or correlate with poor mental health. Examples include:


  • Chronic pain 
  • Poor posture 
  • Shortening of the spine 


Through stretching many of these physical symptoms can be effectively managed and improved. Doing so can have a ripple effect on issues such as fatigue, mood changes and headaches that are all associated with mental health concerns such as heightened anxiety and depression. 


Improves Levels Of Relaxation

Mental health issues are becoming more common. Part of the reason for this is people are facing stressful situations that they don’t know how to deal with. Different types of stretching such as chest-opening and hip stretches can provide an emotional release as well as a physical change to the body. It will help you to achieve clarity and the peace of mind that you need. This can make problems that you experience far less challenging and more manageable. That can include situations that you face in work or in your personal life 


Healthier Sleep Routines

Issues with sleep are another common mental health issue. Reportedly 70% of Americans experience some form of sleep disorder. Sleep is critical for both mental and physical health. It is the process used to recharge and rejuvenate the body. On average, individuals need eight hours of sleep each night to function effectively. Many people get significantly less than this. Usually, that will be because they struggle to fall asleep at the right time. Or, because of issues getting to the deepest level of sleep. To improve sleep quality, it is important to relax and destress before bed. Stretching can provide the right option here. 


Avoiding Pain

Chronic pain is becoming a more prevalent health concern. Indeed, the most common injury in the American workplace today is RSI, or repetitive strain injury. Repetitive strains can be debilitating physically, but they can also cause issues with your mental health. Indeed, many individuals who suffer from long term pain are recommended therapy. Stretching can reduce the chances of chronic pain developing while also existing symptoms. This can also help ensure that people are less likely to experience mental health issues associated with chronic pain. 


Increasing Energy Levels

Stretching may also improve our energy levels. Through stretching, it is possible to lengthen muscles that have grown tighter overtime. This ensures that the body can function on a higher level of efficiency. As a result we feel increased levels of energy as we complete typical processes throughout the day. Stretching can also ensure that the right hormones are released through the body while decreasing the reduction of hormones that trigger levels of stress. This can boost your energy and ensure that your metabolism is elevated to the right point. 

Improving Inner Balance 

Stretching may also improve inner balance and ensure inner peace. Since stretching releases endorphins it can help ensure that we are able to cope more effectively with issues such as depression. This is possible when combining stretching with the right meditation and breathing techniques. The endorphins that are released through stretching provide euphoric sensations. As such, they can be just what we need when dealing with stress and tension throughout the day. 


Stretching, Mobility, And Mental health

One of the key benefits of stretching is that it will improve levels of mobility significantly. That’s important because the less mobile you are, the more likely it is that you will develop issues with mental health. Humans are incredibly social creatures. Research has consistently shown that without the right level of socialization, people are more likely to develop significant mental health issues like depression. 

By stretching regularly, it is possible to ensure that there is less chance of your mobility being impacted. Even if you are suffering from a long term injury or physical condition, regularly stretching can help improve mobility and boost your quality of life. 


Assisted Stretching As We Age 

Assisted stretching can also be a great option for individuals as they age. As we get older, we are more likely to develop a variety of physical and mental health conditions. Examples include everything from arthritis to dementia. Certain types of dementia are caused and linked with a reduced blood flow to the brain including vascular dementia. Studies suggest that exercise and stretching in the early and middle stages of dementia can have a positive impact and may slow the progression of the condition. 

Other research suggests that stretching and exercise may reduce the chances of conditions like dementia developing at all. 


The Right Type Of Stretches For Mental Health 

Any type of stretching will provide mental health benefits. All types of stretches will improve blood flow to the brain and ensure that the right endorphins are released. This in turn will make you feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed. Here are some of the different types of stretching you can explore. 


Forward Fold 

To complete this stretch, you need to stand tall and then soften your knees. Hand your body down loosely, swaying it from each side. This will help to release tension in the back and ensure that the blood flow to the brain does naturally increase. 


Stretching Your Shoulders

This simple stretch can be completed by raising your arms over your head with the palms of your hands facing outwards. You then need to stare straight ahead and keep your arms parallel to your ears.
After you are in this position, relax your shoulders and hold a breath for no more than five seconds. Roll your shoulders while repeating this process several more times. 


Hip And Knee Stretching 

To complete this stretch, you simply need to hug each knee individually, pulling them close to your breath. When you are in this position, you should hold your breath for about five seconds. Repeat this posture a few times each, pulling up one leg at a time. 

Is Assisted Stretching Better For Your Mental Health?

When exploring different types of stretching, you might be wondering whether assisted stretching can provide better benefits for your mental health. Assisted stretching is usually completed with a trained health worker or professional such as a PT. However, anyone can theoretically assist you with stretching. This is useful if you are completing some of the more difficult stretches. While tougher stretches aren’t required to increase blood flow to the brain, they may have a more significant impact. Particularly, if you know that you have issues with blood circulation through your body in general. Assisted stretching can also be useful for individuals who struggle with mobility or find it difficult to get into the right position to complete stretches. As such, it can provide more physical and mental health benefits for certain individuals. It can also ensure that you are stretching the right way. While most stretches used to increase blood flow are easy and can be completed by following a ten minute guide, some are a little more tricky. Assisted stretching will ensure that you unlock the full benefits of stretches like this for your mind as well as your body. 

How Often Should You Stretch To Help Your Brain?

If you want to use stretching to improve your brain and how your brain functions, then you should consider making it a part of your daily routine. This can be combined with regular physical activity but it can also be an isolated process. That will depend on your schedule and how regularly you exercise. Stretching without exercise will still provide significant benefits. The key point to be aware of when stretching is that these are steps that you can complete anywhere. You can do it in the office or while you are at home. Experts recommend that if you are working from home, you set alarms to remind yourself to stretch. You only need to spend a couple of minutes at a time stretching and you will gain the mental health benefits. You can also explore ten minute stretch routines that can easily be fitted into your schedule at the start or the end of the day. Once you start adding stretching to your daily routine, you should begin to notice significant changes to your mental health and brain function in a matter of weeks. 

To sum up, assisted stretching and general stretching isn’t a process that will simply provide physical health benefits. In terms of improving your wellbeing, it can also have a positive impact on your mental health too. It can ensure that your brain gets the right level of blood flow and may also boost circulation. This can have a ripple effect, reducing the symptoms of certain physical health conditions while also decreasing the chances of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety developing. Through stretching, you can remain more relaxed through the day and stop stress reducing your quality of life. Assisted stretching can also ensure your brain remains healthy as you age.