Stretching has been experiencing something of an image problem. For years, the benefits of stretching were considered to be related only to flexibility. Thanks in part to a better understanding and appreciation of anatomical variation among bodies, flexibility is no longer as coveted as it once was. Lately, you’re just as likely to see an Instagram post that celebrates joint stability, strengthening work, or active mobility as you are to see contortionist-style yoga poses.
As someone who isn’t drawn to stretching, I found that shift to be a relief. Gentle stretches never generated enough sensation to maintain my interest and deep, passive stretches or long, active holds usually left my joints feeling achy and unstable. In fact, five years ago I stopped stretching altogether.
But recent research suggests stretching could have health benefits far beyond range of motion. Some studies associate stretching with heart health, healing from injury, even enhancing the body’s response to cancer. Research has yet to discern if there is a significant correlation and if it depends on stretching actively (as in vinyasa yoga) or more passively (as in Yin Yoga), but here’s what we know at the moment.
To learn more about the health benefits of stretching, click here to read the full article on Yoga Journal.