Stretching: Improving Muscle Flexibility

Stretching activities are an important part of any exercise or rehabilitation program.

Stretching is the deliberate lengthening of muscles in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. It can help improve flexibility. And better flexibility may improve your performance in physical activities or decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints move through their full range of motion.

Benefits of Stretching:
• Increased flexibility and joint range of motion
• Improved Circulation
• Better Posture
• Stress Relief
• Enhanced Coordination

Proper Stretching Technique Tips:

Don’t consider stretching a warm-up: You may hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles. So before stretching, warm up with light walking, jogging or biking at low intensity for five to 10 minutes. Or better yet, stretch after you exercise when your muscles are warmed up.

Focus on major muscle groups. When you’re stretching, focus on your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Also stretch muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play. And make sure that you stretch both sides.

Don’t bounce. Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears in the muscle. These tears leave scar tissue as the muscle heals, which tightens the muscle even further, making you less flexible and more prone to pain. So, hold each stretch for about 30 seconds.

Don’t aim for pain. Expect to feel tension while you’re stretching, not pain. If it hurts, you’ve pushed too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.

Keep up with your stretching. Stretching can be time-consuming. But you can achieve the best benefits by stretching regularly, at least two to three times a week. If you don’t stretch regularly, you risk losing any benefits that stretching offered.

Bring movement into your stretching. Gentle movement can help you be more flexible in specific movements. The gentle movements of tai chi, for instance, may be a good way to stretch.

 

BASIC STRETCHING EXERCISE:

Lunge Stretch: In lunge position, rest back knee on the floor, with front knee at 90 degree angle, abs in.  Gently press forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the leg/hip. Switch legs.

Kneeling Hamstring Stretch: From above lunge position, slowly move backward until leg is slightly bent. Bend forward at the hip, keeping back flat until you feel gentle pull in the back of the leg. Switch legs.

Lying Quad Stretch: Sit on the floor with the right leg bent in front of you, left leg bent behind you. Lean to the right on the right forearm and grab onto the top of the left foot with the left hand. Gently pull the heel towards the glutes to stretch the front of the thigh. Repeat on the other side.

Upper Back Stretch: S Seated or standing, stretch the arms straight out and rotate the hands so that the palms face away from each other. Cross the arms so that the palms are pressed together, contract the abs and round the back, reaching away as you relax the head. Don’t collapse but instead imagine you’re curving up and over an imaginary ball.

 

Check out these references:
Visit www.mayoclinic.com and www.about.com for additional information.

As always, thank you for time, love & support. We hope what we have shared has helped you. Be sure to share this info with family & friends.

Thanks!
-Eric & Maleka Beal

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*Before beginning any fitness program, always see a qualified healthcare provider for advice and to address any questions or concerns. The exercises presented on this website are for suggestion only and should not be substituted for medical diagnosis or treatment. Participate at your own risk and stop if you feel faint or experience shortness of breath.