Why does stretching feel so good?

After a night’s sleep or an afternoon spent staring at a computer, there’s little better than a good stretch to release tight muscles.

14th June 2018
Why does stretching feel so good? © Getty

Asked by: Peter Turner, via email

Not only does stretching clear your mind by allowing you to focus on your body, it also releases endorphins. Blood flow to the muscles increases after a long stretch. Muscles are controlled by the nervous system, which has two main components: ‘sympathetic’ (fight or flight) and ‘parasympathetic’ (rest and digest). Static stretching increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation. Although the heart rate may rise during a stretch, it tends to decrease after.

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