So what is stretching really all about? The following report includes some fascinating information about stretching--information you can use, not just the old stuff they used to tell you.
When you are born, we are very flexible. As we get older we start to lose that flexibility unless we exercise which also involves stretching at least 2 to 3 times a week. How do you know if your body is flexible enough, there are different tests that I personally use.
1) Stand straight, knees slightly bent. Slowly bend from the waist and very slowly stretch your arms down to the floor. Ideally you want to touch your toes with your fingertips. It is very important, especially if you do not exercise, that if you feel any pain doing any exercise or stretch. Stop right there and go back to your normal position.
2) Stand straight and slowly reach up with your arms as if you want to touch the sky, being aware again of any pain.
3) Stand straight, close your eyes and lift one of your legs without falling over.
If you do feel any pain, remember, that is your body telling you to stop. Any stretching, stretch very slowly, no jerky movements. Don't push your body to complete a stretch, go as far as you can and then just as slowly come out of the stretch. Do not worry if you cannot complete full stretches, I guarantee, that if you stretch at least 2 to 3 times a week. Within a few weeks your body will be a lot more supple and you will greatly feel the benefits.
What Is Stretching?
Stretching is simply the act of extending to full length the body or simply a part of it. This activity involves straightening or stretching the structure or the limbs. Every day we are stretching muscles, but the problems are that in this day and age with a lot of us being couch potatoes. There is no doubt in my mind that the majority of people are a lot less active than even 50 years ago.
It is well publicised that our children because of numerous reasons are obese, do not exercise enough and that is going to cause problems in future years. There are going to be greater strains on our hospitals when these kids become adults because of the way they grew up. Don't believe me? Watch the news it is happening right now, the Governments in a lot of nations are issuing Health Warnings.
Here is a crazy idea! Lead by example, get fitter as parents and encourage your children to follow your example. Hey, it's just an idea.
Stretching before Exercising
The main reason for stretching before exercising is to prepare and loosen your muscles for more strenuous and sophisticated moves. 10 minutes are ideal, I would not advise any more because you are then using valuable energy which is better used for the main exercises. It is possible to stretch too much and tire yourself out. Always remember the reason for stretching is to warm up, prepare your muscles for more strenuous exercise. So, please do not get too hung up on doing lots of stretching movements before doing main exercises.
If those exercises are weight lifting, the way of stretching is using a lot less weight than you would normally use. For example, going to do bicep curls, do a set with very light weight and then going on to your proper weight for bicep curls. That way you are stretching the proper muscles to do the exercise.
What can You Gain from Stretching?
1) Preventing Injury:- When muscles and tendons are warmed up and supple, there is less chance of injuring yourself and your muscles, tendons recover quickly.
2) Exercise More:- You can do more harder, tiring and complicated movements. With less chance of doing yourself serious injury.
3) More Energy and Enthusiasm:- You will be 'up for it,' ready to go. Wanting to exercise, enjoying exercising and being able to last longer. Also to know what your body can do and cannot.
4) Cholesterol Reduction:- Scientific study shows that this can help reduce cholesterol, stop your arteries from clogging up and may help you from having a heart attack.
5) Active Lifestyle:- You can enjoy a more active lifestyle, be more active in sports. Also you do not have to worry about making simple every day movements and hurting yourself.
6) Growing old gracefully, or disgracefully, whichever suits you. You can feel younger than you actually are without the aches and pains that are usually associated with old age.
Incorporate stretching in your everyday lifestyle. Stretching is really beneficial to you. It also does not require much, if any equipment. Stretching can and is what you do every day, bending and flexing, just be aware and do them slowly without any abrupt movements. Your fitness is everything so do what it takes to keep the body healthy.
I hope you found this article helpful and you will remember when you make any movements what I have written here.
Stretch and be Healthy,
stretching, exercising, flexible, muscles
Saturday, 25 August 2007
Posted by James Toal at Saturday, August 25, 2007