Thursday, February 24, 2011


So aside from a being active and eating healthy there's also and important key factor which we must add to our lifestyle which is to stretch! I know when we think of stretching allot of times it brings us back to elementary school when our gym teacher had us reach for our toes, but stretching is actually vital to any age! Allot of people have the misconception that you only need to stretch if you're going to work out.. WRONG! As we age, our muscles tighten and range of motion in the joints decreases. You know when you hear older people reach for something, and their back hurts and they say its because they're old.. well actually it's because they probably don't stretch often so their muscles have righted causing any simple task to become a work out. A regular stretching program can help lengthen your muscles and keep your joins in check.
It does not have to involve a huge time commitment, but stretching can end up giving you huge results! Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect from a regular stretching program:

Reduced muscle tension
Increased range of movement in the joints
Enhanced muscular coordination
Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)
Prevents muscle injury
Stress relief
Improves posture

So you might be thinking, "I don't have time." You know what I hear, "blah blah excuses blah!" You can literally take 10 minutes of your day to do a simple stretch, even like you used to do as a kids in school. Either when you wake up, or when you're watching T.V. or before you hit the shower.. Anytime, anywhere.. I sometimes get to tired of sitting all day at work, I get up and stretch my legs and arms, I don't care what people think, this is for my own good! There are some cautions you must take when stretching...

Warm up first

Stretching muscles when they're cold increases your risk of pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently pumping your arms, or do a favorite exercise at low intensity for five minutes.

Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds

It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds — and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. That can seem like a long time, so wear a watch or keep an eye on the clock to make sure you're holding your stretches long enough. For most of your muscle groups, if you hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds, you'll need to do each stretch only once.

Don't bounce

Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears (microtears) in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. The scar tissue tightens the muscle even further, making you even less flexible — and more prone to pain.

Focus on a pain-free stretch

If you feel pain as you stretch, you've gone too far. Back off to the point where you don't feel any pain, then hold the stretch.

Relax and breathe freely

Don't hold your breath while you're stretching
Stretch both sidesMake sure your joint range of motion is as equal as possible on each side of your body

Stretch before and after activity

Light stretching after your warm-up followed by a more thorough stretching regimen after your workout is your best bet
Some exercises that are great for stretch are yoga and Pilates. With so much out there you can find a work out that you enjoy and in the long run promotes nothing but "good health."

(References: about.com, mayo clinic)
Some basic stretches EVERYONE should include in their routines....

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