Why does stretching feel so good? © Getty Images

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.

Asked by: Peter Turner, via email

Advertisement

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.


Advertisement

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.