Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On Stretching

When it comes to fitness and exercise, especially women's fitness, we hear a lot about cardio. And a good deal about weight training and heavy lifting. But what about stretching? We all know that it is important before physical activity but how important is it, really?

This is what stretching, as a core part of your work out, can do to benefit you:
Loosens you up. Duh. It keeps your muscles flexible and allows for better range of motion. Which will lessen the chances of injury during physical activity.

Lengthens your muscles (obviously, since you're stretching them). One of the phrases I have come to dislike is "I just want to get toned" Really there's no such thing. But stretching your muscles gives you that "lean" look you're going for.

Promotes relaxation.

In addition to lengthening, stretching will give you better posture.

Prevents muscle spasms. By stretching all of your muscles well before and even throughout your work out, it gets them warmed up by allowing for better blood circulation.

Look how happy stretching makes her.

Proper technique is important:
Stretching should never be painful. Stretch until you feel resistance and hold the position for at least 15-20 seconds. Do not bounce. Keep your respirations even and regular.

Stretch both sides evenly. This means both the left and the right hamstring, whether you do it individually or separately is totes up to you.

Stretching should be a slow process. Do not just bend over to touch your toes in one swift motion. Gradually  r e a c h   for those toesies. Again, no bouncing allowed.

Do not be shy about stretching with a partner.

Know when (and when not) to stretch:
If you are about to some intense stuff, like sprinting, it is best to stretch post-sprint. However if you are about to do some lifting, stretching before and after can be beneficial.

Do not stretch an injured muscle or tendon. This could actually lead to further injury.

Even pooches like to stretch.

So go on, girl, and get ya stretch on! TTFN

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed physical therapist, trainer, or fitness expert. These are some simple pointers that I have learned over the years, and I like to share my wisdom. If you have any questions feel free to ask me or contact your physician or personal trainer. Thanks!