Blog Fitness Workout Plans For Women Benefits Of Stretching Before Bed

Benefits Of Stretching Before Bed

Research has proven that the quality and quantity of sleep you get each night has a significant impact on your overall health and well-being (2). A restful night of sleep is crucial to feeling refreshed and energized the next day. This translates into better cognitive function, improved mood, increased productivity and focus, and overall better physical health (2). Knowing this, how can you make sure you’re getting the most out of your slumber? One way is to stretch before going to bed. You spend your day on various activities, so a round of stretching could help you wind down from all that physical activity, preparing your body for a sound night’s sleep. Read about benefits of stretching before bed below!

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What Are The 6 Benefits Of Stretching?

Here are the top reasons why stretching before bed is a good idea, and how to get started. 

Reduces Stress

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Work,  family, and social obligations can take a toll on your mental and physical health.

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to exercise regularly and stretch. Like any other physical activity, stretching triggers the release of endorphins, the hormones that boost your mood and act as natural painkillers (4).

Doing this can help you relax and release the tension that has built up throughout the day. It can also help to calm your mind and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.

Improves Flexibility

If you don’t stretch regularly, your muscles may become tight and restricted. This can lead to decreased range of motion and make it more difficult to perform everyday activities or exercise (4).

Improving your range of motion through stretching should improve your flexibility and make your movements more fluid. As you age, this can help you stay active and mobile (4).

Prevents Muscle Soreness

When you work out, you’re causing damage to your muscles. This is actually a good thing, as it’s what leads to muscle growth and improvement. However, this damage may lead to soreness and stiffness.

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Stretching helps prevent muscle soreness by lengthening the muscles and promoting blood flow. This will help to flush out the toxins that are produced as a result of exercise and speed up the healing process (4).

Read More: Post Workout Stretches: 13 Best Moves To Heal Your Muscles And Improve Flexibility

benefits of stretching before bed

Reduces The Risk Of Injury

Tight muscles are more susceptible to injuries. By stretching, you can increase your range of motion and improve your joint flexibility, both of which can help reduce your risk of injury (4).

Improves Sleep Quality

One of the health benefits of stretching before bed is that it can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. This is likely due to how it helps to reduce stress and muscle tension (1).

Additionally, stretching before bed may help you wake up feeling more refreshed and less stiff.

Boosts Circulation

Stretching helps to improve blood circulation which can help deliver nutrients and oxygen to your muscles and tissues. This can help the body to recover faster from exercise and reduce the risk of injury (4).

benefits of stretching before bed

Which Are The Best Exercises To Include In Your Stretching Routine?

The following stretches may offer benefits when performed before bed. You should only stretch as much as is comfortable and stop if any stretches cause pain or discomfort.

The Bear Hug

This stretch targets the upper back muscles. Upper back muscles are responsible for maintaining good posture, so keeping them flexible is important.

To do the bear hug stretch:

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Wrap your arms around yourself and hug your shoulders.
  3. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
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The Seated Straddle

This is a good all-around stretch that can help to loosen up the muscles in the back, hips, and thighs.

To do the seated straddle stretch:

  1. Sit with your legs apart and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Reach out and touch your toes or extend your legs as far as possible.
  3. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

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benefits of stretching before bed

The Neck Stretch

This stretch works the neck and upper trapezius muscles. Both muscle groups are responsible for keeping the neck aligned and can become tight and stiff from prolonged sitting or stress.

To do the neck stretch:

  1. Sit or stand tall with your shoulders down and relaxed.
  2. Tuck your chin into your chest and slowly tilt your head to the left.
  3. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute before repeating to the right side.

The Cobra Pose

This stretch helps to loosen up the muscles in the chest, shoulders, and upper back. It’s a great way to combat the stiffness that can come from sitting at a desk all day.

To do the cobra pose:

  1. Lie on your stomach with your legs extended and your palms flat on the ground.
  2. Slowly raise your head, chest, and arms off the ground.
  3. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

The Cat-Cow

This stretch targets the lower back, hips, and core muscles. It’s a great way to loosen up the muscles after a long day of sitting.

To do the cat-cow stretch:

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the ground and your knees hip-width apart.
  2. As you inhale, arch your back, tighten your abdominal muscles and tuck in your tailbone to form the cat pose.
  3. As you exhale, let your lower back sag toward the floor, rotate your tailbone upwards and stretch the front of your neck to form the cow pose.
  4. Repeat this sequence 10-20 times.
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Read More: The Best Stretching Techniques For Better Flexibility

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The Child’s Pose

Your lower back, glutes, and upper body can all benefit from this stretch. It’s great for spinal alignment after a long day of sitting at a desk.

To do the child’s pose:

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the ground and your knees hip-width apart.
  2. Sit back on your heels and extend your arms forward to form a relaxed position.
  3. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

The Standing Calf Stretch

Many people neglect calf stretching, but it’s an important part of any stretching routine. The calf muscles are used in many activities, such as running and jumping, and can become tight and stiff from overuse.

To do the standing calf stretch:

  1. Place your hands on a wall for support.
  2. Step one foot back behind you and bend your knee to lower your heel toward the floor.
  3. Keep your front leg straight and your back heel flat on the ground.
  4. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute before repeating on the other side.

The Kneeling Quad Stretch

This stretch targets the quadriceps, which are the large muscles on the front of the thighs. The quads can become tight from activities such as running and cycling.

To do the kneeling quad stretch:

  1. Kneel on one leg with your other foot flat on the ground in front of you.
  2. Use your hand to grab hold of your ankle and pull your heel toward your butt.
  3. Keep your knees together and your back straight as you hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
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benefits of stretching before bed

Low Lunge With Side Bend

This stretch targets the muscles in the hips, groin, and thighs. It’s a great way to loosen up the muscles after a long day of sitting.

To do the low lunge with side bend:

  1. Start in a low lunge position with your right leg forward and your left leg back.
  2. Place your right hand on the ground and your left hand on your right knee.
  3. Inhale as you lift your left arm overhead and bend to the right.
  4. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute before repeating on the other side.

The Seated Forward Bend

This stretch targets the muscles in the back of the legs, such as the hamstrings and calves. It’s a great way to loosen up the muscles after a long day of sitting.

To do the seated forward bend:

  1. Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Bend forward from your hips, keeping your back straight as you reach for your toes.
  3. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

The Piriformis Stretch

This stretch targets the piriformis, a small muscle in the hip that can become tight from activities such as running and cycling.

To do the piriformis stretch:

  1. Lie on your back and cross your right ankle over your left knee.
  2. Use your hand to pull your left knee toward your chest.
  3. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute before repeating on the other side.

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benefits of stretching before bed

Safety Tips For Stretching Before Bed

It is safe for most people to stretch before bed. However, these tips can help you maximize the benefit of stretching and reduce the risk of injury:

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Warm Up First

Muscles stretch best when they are warm. Unlike the energizing warm up routine you’d use before exercise, the one you use before bed must be calming.

Avoid cardio activities that raise your heart rate and will make it harder for you to fall asleep. Instead, warm your muscles using a bedtime ritual that involves heat. A warm bath, hot shower, or warm compress on the body will do the trick.

Do Not Overstretch

It is important not to overstretch, as this can lead to injury (3). When you are first starting a stretching routine, begin with gentle stretches and work your way up to more challenging ones. If you experience any pain or discomfort while stretching, stop and consult a doctor before continuing.

Focus On Breathing

Stretching is not only about physical movement. It’s also about the breath. Inhale and exhale deeply as you stretch to help your muscles relax.

Controlled breathing in a slow, rhythmic way enhances the benefits of stretching by helping you focus and relax the mind and body.

Do Not Bounce

When stretching, be sure to avoid any sudden or jerky movements. Instead, move slowly and smoothly into each stretch. Bouncing can cause muscle strains.

Listen To Your Body

Stretching should never cause pain. If you experience pain while stretching, stop and consult a doctor before continuing.

Be sure to listen to your body and only stretch as far as you feel comfortable.

The Bottom Line

Stretching is a great way to relieve muscle tension and improve flexibility. Before bed is the perfect time to do it, as it can help you relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Just be sure to warm up first, focus on your breathing, and stretch slowly and smoothly to avoid any injuries.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Effects of resistance exercise training and stretching on chronic insomnia (2019, nih.gov) 
  2. The Benefits of Getting a Full Night’s Sleep (n.d., sclhealth.org)
  3. The relevance of stretch intensity and position – a systematic review (2015, nih.gov) 
  4. The Simple Act of Stretching (2021, colostate.edu)
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