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Don't Forget To Stretch!
October 3, 2011 - Dalia Jakubauskas
Even the most diligent exercisers tend to forget one of the most important components of any exercise program –stretching. A simple series of stretches takes just a few minutes and helps prevent injury to muscles and joints yet many exercisers neglect this part of their program. Well, here are some important reasons not to skip stretching. • Improve the range of motion in your joints • Improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury • Reduce muscle soreness and improve your posture • Help reduce lower back pain • Increase blood and nutrients to the tissues • Improve your coordination • Helps reduce stress • Can be the most relaxing part of an exercise routine
It’s no secret that physical therapists employ stretching techniques as a key component of the healing process for their patients. The same rules apply to average and elite exercisers, as do patients recovering from injury. Without sufficient stretching, muscles and joints stiffen, cannot heal properly and risk tears and injury –especially as we grow older. Stretching is not rocket science and takes just a few minutes at the end of each exercise session. Here are some tips to improve your stretching techniques.
1. Stretch after your workout when your muscles are warm and you're ready for a cool down. Some folks like to stretch before their workout but if you do, make sure to do a light warm up like a few-minute walk or marching in place. Cold muscles can lead to injury.
2. Try to hold each stretch for at least 15-30 seconds.
3. Do not bounce! This is called ballistic stretching and can cause injury. Simply hold the stretch. This technique is called static stretching.
4. Stretching between stretch training sets isn’t a bad idea. You can even perform light stretches throughout the day to deal with a tight neck, shoulders or back.
5. Target the muscles groups you’ve worked during your exercise sessions as well as any chronically tight areas.
Check the following website from the Mayo Clinic for some easy-to-replicate stretches: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/SM00043 So, if you’ve been engaging in a regular exercise program –great! Just don’t forget to stretch.
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