If you have no time to stretch in the day or are always rushing out of a fitness class before the cooling down exercises are complete or you want greater gains in the gym, you will definitely want to consider the suggestions below.
If you were to quiz your colleagues, friends, and family on the cause of lack of flexibility, the majority may think it’s due to the aging process. In most cases, however, lack of flexibility is actually largely a result of inactivity and then, to varying lesser degrees, of genetic makeup, gender, age, and level of physical activity.
When we sit all day, especially in a locked position at the computer, for example, or we don't have a lot of movement throughout the day or exercise regularly, over time our muscles have a tendency to become tight and stiff. This is not only from the static motion, but also from the repetitive action as well. The important purpose of stretching our muscles and joints is to “exercise” their ability to extend through a normal range of motion and then to allow the muscles to return to their normal resting lengths.
By incorporating a regular stretching program into your weekly life, there are many benefits and likely gains:
- Improved posture
- Greater freedom of movement
- Increased weight lifting potential
- Release of muscle tension and soreness
- Reduced risk of injury
- Enhanced body awareness
- Enhanced performance
- Feeling great
- Increased physical and mental relaxation
Stretching thirty minutes three times per week is actually ideal and optimal for your body to gain the benefits most need. With today's overloaded schedules, however, you may wonder how to fit this into your week. Here are some excellent options:
- Yoga, even once a week, helps loosen muscle tension and stiffness
- Pilates both strengthens and lengthens—try it even once a week
- Tai Chi will help you feel more calm and centered
- Schedule a Thai massage appointment
- Go to a simple stretching class at your local gym
If fitness classes are not your thing, you can do these instead:
- Stretch either during or after a shower, hot bath, or sauna
- Stretch while still in bed (simple hands over head and pointed toes can help limber you up)
- Stretch in between your weight training exercises
- Stretch while standing in line at your local grocery store
- Do partner stretching, where you help each other move the body into stretching positions (caution: don't overstretch your partner)
- Purchase and use a stretching DVD for home stretching
You can fit stretching into your daily routine and give any one of these suggestions a go. When performing any stretches make sure to...
- Start slow
- Hold the stretch, do not bounce
- Hold each stretch for a minimum of 10 seconds to an ideal of 30 seconds
- Stretch just enough—it should not be painful
Limbering up and becoming flexible does pay off!!!
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