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Why do we stretch when we wake up? © iStock

Why do we stretch when we wake up?

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

Asked by: Solang Uk, Switzerland

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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.

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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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