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The Many Benefits Of Stretching & Why It Feels So Good To Stretch

Why Does Stretching Feel So Good?

Humans have a natural tendency to actively seek activities that make us feel good and avoid things that cause pain. Stretching also is no exception to this.(1, 2, 3, 4) It is your body’s natural rewarding system that makes stretching feel so good and motivates you to keep your muscles stretched at an optimal tension. Not only does stretching feel good, but it also has several health benefits. Here are some reasons why stretching makes you feel so good.(5, 6)

  1. Stretching Helps Improve Circulation

    When you stretch a muscle, the body responds by increasing the blood flow to that particular area. The blood vessels around the targeted muscle widen to let more blood flow through. At the same time, your heart starts to pump more blood. This increase in the blood flow lets the muscle or muscles you are stretching to receive more oxygen and also lets it get rid of metabolic waste products.(7, 8)

    Regular stretching improves your overall blood circulation, and improved circulation means improved blood flow to the muscles. This helps reduce your recovery time and also decrease muscle soreness, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS.(9, 10)

    As this helps get rid of metabolic waste products, you feel an improved sense of wellness.

  2. Activation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System

    Research has shown that static stretching helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system.(11) At the same time, it also inhibits activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Your parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for your digestive functions and rest. This is why it helps induce feelings of relaxation and calmness when you stretch.

  3. Stretching Releases Endorphins

    Endorphins are chemicals that are produced by the pituitary gland and your central nervous system that promote pain-relieving effects and function as ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the body. Endorphins function as neurotransmitters and have been found to have higher pain-relieving effects than morphine.(12) Endorphins also bring about a feeling of euphoria once they bind with the receptors in the brain.

    Endorphins are also an integral part of the body’s natural reward system, and they are released after activities like eating, drinking, exercise, and sex.(13)

    While there is not much research available on the effects of stretching and release of endorphins, a 2015 study found that stretching may help decrease menstruation pain. It is believed that this is due to the pain-relieving effects that happen due to the relaxation of blood vessels, the suppression of prostaglandins, and the release of beta-endorphins.(14)

What are the Benefits of Stretching?

There are many benefits of stretching your muscles regularly. Here are some of the benefits of stretching:

  1. Greater Flexibility

    Regularly stretching your muscles can help improve your stretching.(15) This is especially true if you live a sedentary lifestyle. Your flexibility starts to naturally decrease as part of the aging process. However, stretching may help slow down this process.(16)

  2. Improved Circulation

    As mentioned above already, stretching regularly helps improve your circulation. Stretching causes short-term improvements in circulation as it relaxes the blood vessels and also increases the amount of blood your heart pumps. Although there is relatively less amount of research available on this, it is believed that stretching may also have long-term benefits for your circulatory health, including lower blood pressure and improved blood vessel function.(17)

  3. Enhanced Sports Performance

    Of course, we are all well aware of the importance of stretching before doing any physical activity. Achieving a full range of motion through all the body joints can immensely help boost your performance in sports. For example, if you want to achieve maximum speed, a runner needs to be able to completely extend and rotate their hips. Regular stretching, both static and dynamic, may help improve your range of motion. However, studies have shown that it is better to reserve static stretching for after workouts as it can reduce force production.(18)

  4. Relief From Stress

    As mentioned above, static stretching helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Activating this part of the nervous system may help relieve the psychological effects of stress. This helps promote feelings of relaxation and calmness throughout the body.(19)

  5. Better Posture

    Muscle tension and tightness can have a negative impact on your posture as it pulls your spine into positions that put a lot of stress on your back, neck, and other core muscles. Studies have found that regular stretching along with practicing core strengthening exercises may help improve poor posture and also improve overall body alignment.(20)

  6. Helps Prevent and Heal Back Pain

    Tighter muscles can cause a decrease in your range of motion. When this happens, there is an increased likelihood of straining the muscles in the back. Stretching can also help heal an existing back injury as it stretches the muscles.(21) Having a regular stretching routine is also helpful in preventing future back pain as it strengthens the back muscles and reduces the risk of muscle strain.

Simple Stretching Routines To Do Daily

The best part about stretching regularly is that you don’t need any specialized equipment to do it. Stretching can be done anywhere and at any time. Here are some simple stretches that can help alleviate tightness and tension in many of the body’s major muscle groups.

  1. Low Lunge

    The low lunge is helpful in stretching the muscles in the thighs, hips, groin, and core. Here are the steps to do the low lunge:

    • Put your right foot forward into a lunge. Your back knee should be on the ground while your left leg is extended.
    • Keep your right knee over the right foot, but make sure not to go beyond your foot.
    • Place your hands on the ground next to your foot. You can also choose to raise them towards the sky or put them on your knees.
    • Now take a deep breath and focus on opening your chest and stretch out your spine.
    • Hold this lunge for at least five breaths.
    • Then repeat on the other side.
  2. Seated Torso Stretch

    You need to have a chair handy to do this stretch. The seated torso stretch helps workout the muscles in the back and your core. Here are the steps to do this stretch:

    • Begin by sitting up straight in a chair. Keep your feet firmly on the ground.
    • Hold the back of the chair with one hand and twist yourself in the direction of that hand.
    • Continue to hold the twist for at least 30 seconds.
    • Repeat on the other side.
  3. Forward Bend

    The forward bend is a key stretching routine that helps stretch out the back of your legs, your back, and the groin area. Here are the steps to do this stretch:

    • Sit down on a comfortable surface and extend your left leg out in front.
    • Put your right foot against the inside of the left thigh.
    • Take a deep breath and lift up your hands over your head.
    • While exhaling, bend forward from your hips and reach forward as far as it is possible.
    • Rest your hands on your left leg or on the floor and hold the pose for 50 to 60 seconds.
    • Repeat the same on the other side.

How to Stretch Safely?

Here are some tips for stretching safely:

  • Before you start to stretch, it is important to get your blood flowing to avoid getting injured. You can do a low-intensity activity like easy jogging on the spot or walking for just five to ten minutes to ensure that your muscles are warmed up.
  • Always stretch gently. Never force your body into a position that causes pain. If you find a stretch to be painful, it means that you are stretching too far and should pull back.
  • Make stretching a part of your regular routine. You will be able to benefit the most from stretching if you make it into a regular habit. Fitness experts recommend that you should practice stretching at least two to three times a week.
  • Always make sure to stretch both sides of your body equally to avoid any type of flexibility imbalances.
  • You should always make sure that you avoid bouncing while stretching. Bouncing during stretching can cause injury to your tendons or muscles. It can also tighten your muscles.


Stretching feels so good because it activates your parasympathetic nervous system and increases the blood flow to your muscles. Stretching has many other benefits as well, including releasing endorphins that help improve your mood and help reduce pain. Apart from feeling good and relieving muscle stress and tension, stretching also helps boost circulation, improve your flexibility, enhance athletic performance, help alleviate back pain, and also improve your posture.

However, if you have an injury or a chronic health condition, you should only perform stretching exercises after talking to your doctor.


  1. Muanjai, P., Jones, D.A., Mickevicius, M., Satkunskiene, D., Snieckus, A., Skurvydas, A. and Kamandulis, S., 2017. The acute benefits and risks of passive stretching to the point of pain. European journal of applied physiology, 117(6), pp.1217-1226.
  2. Shrier, I. and Gossal, K., 2000. Myths and truths of stretching: individualized recommendations for healthy muscles. The physician and sportsmedicine, 28(8), pp.57-63.
  3. Herman, S.L. and Smith, D.T., 2008. Four-week dynamic stretching warm-up intervention elicits longer-term performance benefits. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 22(4), pp.1286-1297.
  4. Shrier, I. and Gossal, K., 2000. Myths and truths of stretching: individualized recommendations for healthy muscles. The physician and sportsmedicine, 28(8), pp.57-63.
    Deshmukh, V.Y., Health Benefits Of Stretching.
  5. Choi, S.D. and Woletz, T., 2010. Do stretching programs prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Journal of Safety, Health and Environmental Research, 6(3), pp.1-19.
  6. Kruse, N.T. and Scheuermann, B.W., 2017. Cardiovascular responses to skeletal muscle stretching:“Stretching” the truth or a new exercise paradigm for cardiovascular medicine?. Sports Medicine, 47(12), pp.2507-2520.
  7. Hotta, K., Kamiya, K., Shimizu, R., Yokoyama, M., Nakamura-Ogura, M., Tabata, M., Kamekawa, D., Akiyama, A., Kato, M., Noda, C. and Matsunaga, A., 2013. Stretching exercises enhance vascular endothelial function and improve peripheral circulation in patients with acute myocardial infarction. International heart journal, 54(2), pp.59-63.
  8. Lund, H., Vestergaard‐Poulsen, P., Kanstrup, I.L. and Sejrsen, P., 1998. The effect of passive stretching on delayed onset muscle soreness, and other detrimental effects following eccentric exercise. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 8(4), pp.216-221.
  9. Wessel, J. and Wan, A., 1994. Effect of stretching on the intensity of delayed-onset muscle soreness. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 4(2), pp.83-87.
  10. Inami, T., Shimizu, T., Baba, R. and Nakagaki, A., 2014. Acute changes in autonomic nerve activity during passive static stretching. American Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 2(4), pp.166-170.
  11. Chaudhry, S.R. and Gossman, W., 2021. Biochemistry, endorphin. StatPearls [Internet].
  12. Veening, J.G. and Barendregt, H.P., 2015. The effects of beta-endorphin: state change modification. Fluids and Barriers of the CNS, 12(1), pp.1-22.
  13. Renuka, K. and Jeyagowri, S., 2015. Stretching Exercise Therapy and Primary Dysmenorrhea–Nursing Perspectives. IOSR J Nurs Heal Sci Ver III, 4, pp.2320-1940.
  14. Nishikawa, Y., Aizawa, J., Kanemura, N., Takahashi, T., Hosomi, N., Maruyama, H., Kimura, H., Matsumoto, M. and Takayanagi, K., 2015. Immediate effect of passive and active stretching on hamstrings flexibility: a single-blinded randomized control trial. Journal of physical therapy science, 27(10), pp.3167-3170.
  15. Adams, K., O’Shea, P. and O’Shea, K.L., 1999. Aging: its effects on strength, power, flexibility, and bone density. Strength and conditioning Journal, 21, pp.65-77.
  16. Kruse, N.T. and Scheuermann, B.W., 2017. Cardiovascular responses to skeletal muscle stretching:“Stretching” the truth or a new exercise paradigm for cardiovascular medicine?. Sports Medicine, 47(12), pp.2507-2520.
  17. Chaabene, H., Behm, D.G., Negra, Y. and Granacher, U., 2019. Acute effects of static stretching on muscle strength and power: An attempt to clarify previous caveats. Frontiers in physiology, 10, p.1468.
  18. Kripalu. 2022. Stretching for Stress Relief. [online] Available at: <https://kripalu.org/resources/stretching-stress-relief> [Accessed 27 January 2022].
  19. Kim, D., Cho, M., Park, Y. and Yang, Y., 2015. Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain. Journal of physical therapy science, 27(6), pp.1791-1794.
  20. Harvard Health. 2022. Stretching and strengthening are key to healing and preventing back pain – Harvard Health. [online] Available at: <https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/stretching-and-strengthening-are-key-to-healing-and-preventing-back-pain> [Accessed 27 January 2022].

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 5, 2022

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