Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Stretching for Health

For most athletes, stretching remains a cornerstone of their exercise routine every day.  Without it, they know the risk of injury increases dramatically.  However, if you pay attention to what most people do before working out, you'll notice that many of them stretch very quickly or not at all.  This could be one of the biggest mistakes people make when working out.

Studies on stretching show that, when done correctly, it may increase your athletic performance and reduce the risk of injury.  By creating more flexibility in your muscles and joints, your body can move more freely through each movement.  This can help decrease the risk of immediate or long-term injury.  Any book or website on athletic performance will tell you that a full range of motion is the goal.

Additionally, stretching increases the amount of blood to your muscles, warming them up and allowing more flexibility.  It's important to make stretching part of your warm-up and cool-down routines when working out.  Your body will thank you for it.

When you choose a stretching routine, make sure to cover all the major muscles groups.  If you are spending more time on your legs that day (hiking, running or biking, for example), focus on leg stretches.  Also, don't rush through stretching.  Consider it part of your workout routine and take at least 30 seconds for each stretch, going as deeply as feels comfortable.  Also, be aware of your own body, paying attention to the areas that may need more focus.

At any time during the day, you can stop for a few minutes and stretch your body.  I have found this to be very effective at work, where I am sitting all day.  My neck and shoulders can get very sore, and stretching them a few times a day can relieve tension and pain.  After a few weeks of daily stretching, you will certainly begin to notice a difference.  Take care of your body and be healthy!

Mystic Merman

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