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!
- 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.