Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Fitness Tips: The Importance of Stretching

By Klaudia Szestowicka

We’ve all heard it before: stretching is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. It decreases the chance of injuries and helps keep our muscles warm and limber. But there plenty more reasons why we should put ourselves through 10-15 minutes of stretching every day, even if it is downright painful at times! 
When we wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you do? Stretch! It’s our body’s instinct to stretch out our muscles, tendons, and joints when they are tight. It helps us move around much smoother. 

There are many reasons for us to add stretching to our weekly routine. If we allow just 10 minutes four days a week, we can greatly improve our bodies. Everyday activities put a lot of stress on our muscles, even more so if you are an athlete. This stress accumulates over time creating what we sometimes call “knots” in our muscles. Stretching several times a week breaks up that stress and eases that pain. 
No matter what age you are, your range of motion may be limited. You can easily get that back in just a few short weeks! One of the greatest benefits of stretching on a regular basis is increased energy. By stretching, we increase the blood circulation to different muscle groups and increased blood circulation means more energy for you. Surely we can all benefit from that every morning! In addition, a proper stretching technique can not only reduce tension in your muscle, but tension in your state of mind, making you more relaxed and happier. 

For women, another benefit of stretching is shorter, more regular, and easier-to-deal with menstrual cycle. Who wouldn't love that! Research has shown that prolonged stretching along with diet control will reduce cholesterol and significantly reverse hardening of the arteries by up to 20%. 

It’s up to you to decide how important stretching is to you. It only takes about 10-15 daily and four or five days a week. With stretching, just like any other fitness training, your body will resist at first, most likely not being flexible. After about four to six weeks it will stop resisting and you will regain that flexibility. With any questions, see a trained professional.

Here are some tips on stretching:
  • Hold all stretching for 30 seconds. 
  • Move from stretch to stretch slowly and carefully. 
  • Remember to breathe normally while holding the stretch. 
  • Only stretch to a point of mild discomfort. 
  • Balance your routine: work opposing muscles, such as biceps then triceps; or quads then hamstrings. 
  • Prevent boredom: Join a yoga class or see a physiotherapist. Make the routine your own!
Klaudia is a certified Group Exercise Instructor. Her favorite exercise is R.I.P.P.E.D.

This Friday Fitness Tip is sponsored by Being-Fit® Fitness Center in Clairemont Square. Being Fit offers everything you need to meet your fitness goals in a supportive neighborhood gym atmosphere. Click here for a free three day pass!

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