Friday, May 8, 2009

Fitness Friday ~ Stretching


On this Fitness Friday, I want to talk about stretching.

Stretching is often the most overlooked form of exercise. However, it really is such an important component of a complete fitness program.

Everyone can benefit from stretching but if you've been sedentary for some time, begin slowly.

Here are a few of the benefits of stretching:

  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Relaxes your body
  • Increases your range of motion
  • Helps prevent injuries (by keeping muscles loose)
  • Improves your muscle's resistance to stress
  • Increases your body awareness
  • Promotes better circulation
  • Promotes muscle balance
  • It generally feels good and ...calming!
Here are a few guidelines and safety precautions for stretching:

  • Don't rush. Allow plenty of time so you can hold the stretch until you feel the muscle has been stretched. If you hold a stretch for 30 seconds you'll maintain your flexibility. But if you really want to increase your flexibility, hold the stretch longer.
  • Stretch to the point of mild tension but never to the point of pain.
  • Try to relax your muscles when you stretch instead of tightening up.
  • Don't forget to breathe.

Here are just a few standing stretches to try:

Hamstring Stretch: Place your right foot on a low support in front of you. Keep your foot flexed. Bend from the hips, keeping your back straight. Press your hand on your right thigh until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh and behind the knee. Repeat with your other leg. I sometimes use the edge of the treadmill or my outside steps to do this stretch before begin my walk.



Quadricep Stretch: Bend your right knee and bring the bent leg up behind you. While grasping your ankle with your right hand, gently pull the thigh parallel to the left leg. If you can't reach your ankle, grab the back of your pant leg or you can loop a towel around your ankle. Repeat with the other leg.


Calf Stretch: Place your hands on a wall at should height and width. Bend your front leg slightly and place weight on it until your back leg feels the stretch. Press the back heel into the floor and keep that leg staight. Repeat with the other leg.

Believe me, stretching is so good for you. And it can really improve your flexibility. No matter how old you are, this is an area that can be improved over time.


My grandfather used to be able to easily bend down and touch his toes with his elbows! Can you believe that? But me ...I'm not very flexible! I have to work at it. But when I'm consistent with my stretching and flexibility exercises, I always notice such an improvement. So, keep at it.

And as you already know, stretching is just one component of an overall exercise program. So, don't forget the aerobic and strength training parts too. I know ...enough already, right?

My fitness partners are also posting on Fitness Friday. Sandy of God Speaks Today is sharing some random thoughts on fitness. If you know Sandy, you know she'll do it with her particular brand of humor which I love. And Sarah of All Pain, No Gain has a challenge for you. So, be sure to hop over to their blogs and say hi.

How about you? Do you remember to stretch when you exercise? I really want to know.

13 comments:

  1. Awesome advice my friend, thank you.

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  2. So useful and necessary information!

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  3. I grew up taking dance classes - and stretching was HUGE - so important!! It seems like so many people, even athletes, ignore the benefits of stretching. I'm so glad you are talking about it today. It REALLY REALLY REALLY makes a difference in how you feel and how your body reacts to workouts.

    Totally awesome post!

    Blessings,
    Kate :)

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  4. Excellent! Stretching is very important and I stretch before and after my workouts and even on days I don't workout I make sure to stretch.

    Stretching and warm ups and cool downs are things many people don't do and they don't realize the benefits to doing all three.

    I may have to start doing this Fitness Friday with you guys. We'll see. I'm going to link to this article today.

    Love you and hubby is off with me today so he's taking me to the Florida Botanical Gardens. I'm so excited because I LOVE FLOWERS! and I've not been there since we relocated. Have a blessed day Sister.

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  5. Thank you for this great advice! I needed this! So important. I do stretches in the pool too... makes it easier for me.

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  6. "Fitness Friday?" I thought. Oh, Debbie must be warming us up to the idea of stretching since today is Thursday...lol. But what do you know! I checked my calendar and found out I have skipped a day in my life - I have no idea where it went but I'm sure glad I can count on your theme days to keep me up to date ;)

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  7. One thing I'm learning from Jillian Michaels is how important it is to do "dynamic" stretching as opposed to "static" stretching before exercise. Dynamic is stretching along with movement, like arm circles. Static stretching before exercise can cause injury. The other option would be to do a 5 minute warm up and then do static stretching.

    I always stretch and I love it.

    :)
    Sandy

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  8. When is the best time to stretch? Before, during or after exercise? I heard you should never stretch until your muscles are warmed up but that you should always stretch before exercise. Ummm???

    Thanks for the tips.

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  9. Debbie,

    Thanks for this very practical advice on stretching.

    And congrats on the spa giveaway...I am so happy for you, my friend.

    Big hugs!

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  10. Hi Debbie,
    I came over from FFF.
    I really appreciate your post about stretching. I planned on doing some stretching today, so I did the stretches you described. The pictures and explanations were really helpful.
    Thanks!
    Karen

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  11. Yes!!! I stretch before I golf-I'm talking quality stretching or my muscles get sooo sore. It really helps me to stretch. BTW, I appreciated your blog on "Loving." God is teaching me so much about loving my (literal) neighbors. Thanks for the comment! Dana

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  12. Stretching is something I need to get back to. Thanks for the health reminder.

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  13. I need to stretch a whole lot more. It is so relaxing to me, but when I go, go, go all the time I tend to cut out stretching to save time. I will be adding this back in. Great post!

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Am I a kid or what?

Am I a kid or what?

I love this place...Carmel, CA

I love this place...Carmel, CA