Why do we stretch when we wake up?

It feels great to have a big stretch after a good sleep, and your muscles agree.

26th January 2016
Why do we stretch when we wake up? (iStock)

Asked by: Solang Uk, Switzerland

When you sleep, your muscles lose tone and fluid tends to pool along your back. Stretching helps to massage fluid gently back into the normal position. Also, your muscles protect themselves from over-extension by inhibiting the nerve impulses as they approach their limit.

Over time, this safety mechanism becomes increasingly restrictive. Stretching briefly takes your muscles outside their normal range. This recalibrates the feedback mechanisms that determine their normal amount of motion.


Get more fascinating Q&As from BBC Focus magazine by following @sciencefocusQA

You are currently reading: Why do we stretch when we wake up? - 26th January