When establishing your new fitness plan don’t forget to include stretching exercises as an essential component of your routines. Many people overlook the importance of stretching. Stretching will help keep your muscles strong and flexible making you less likely to experience injury. Before and directly after your workout routines take some time to stretch your muscles.
Warm Up First
It’s always a good idea to warm up your body before you participate in stretching exercises. Stretching without warming up could cause injury to your muscles and joints.There are many ways to warm up your body. Some people choose to jog in place slowly to warm up. If you like music, you could put on a favorite tune for your warm up. Simply sway to the music while rotating your head and arms, and marching slowly to the beat by raising your legs knee high or gently dance along making use of your entire body. You can also prepare your body for stretching by taking a hot shower to warm up. While in the shower lift your arms up towards the sky , massage your arms and neck, and release the stress from your body and mind. Upon exiting the shower dry off quickly and dress in a sweatsuit to maintain the warmth. Begin stretching exercises right away.
The main reasons you should stretch is to prevent injury to your body. Stretching exercises increase your flexibililty or range of motion for your joints and muscles making them less likely to become damaged during your workout. Stretching should be done consistently throughout your lifetime even if you discontinue your exercise routine. Otherwise, you will lose the flexibility that you gained as your muscles become tight from lack of use. Set a goal to stretch at least twice a week. Moveover, studies have demonstrated that regular stretching could reduce the risk of developing chronic pain that often comes with aging. Even if you already experience discomfort, such as back pain, stretching to modify your posture will reduce or eliminate the pain. If you spend most of your day sitting down due to work, it is essential to do stretching exercises while seated at your desk every hour for a few minutes.
How to Stretch
Start out stretching very slowly as if you are doing Tai Chi. Focus on gentle movements with mild resistance. You should not feel any pain during stretching, if so you are overdoing it. Just relax, take your time and enjoy the process. Pay attention to all of your major muscles. If you need guidance with stretching, consider following along with a DVD for basic stretching exercises or beginning Yoga. During the process of stretching it is especially important to pay attention to the muscles in your hips, hamstrings and back.
Stretching Your Hip Muscles
One of the best ways to stretch your hip muscles and keep them flexible is to participate is squats. Get in proper position before beginning your squats. First, stand with your feet flat on the ground about hip width apart. Turn your feet so that they are slightly pointing outwards. Hold on to a table edge or another secure surface for support. Keep your upper body straight while looking forward bend your knees until you are amost in a seated chair position. Make sure your heals remain on the floor as you squat. Hold the position for a few seconds then return to your original upright position. Make sure to keep your breathing steady. Start out slowly by doing a set of 10 squats each day for two weeks. From that point, steadily increases that number to a minimum of 20 squats. Remember to do your squats slowly and gently. Hold on to a counter or table edge for support and balance as you squat.
Stretching Your Hamstrings and Back
Toe touches are a great way to stretch and strengthen both your hamstrings and back muscles. As with all stretching exercises, it is essential that you perform toe touches slowly and steadily while breathing properly. Begin by standing upright with you feet pointed directly ahead and planted firmly on the floor. Keep your feet about 6 inches apart. Fully extend your arms and hands directly over your head towards the sky. Then bend your body forward at your waist while bringing your hands down to your toes. Hold the position for a few seconds then release. Do not bend your knees while doing toe touches. If your muscle are too tight to touch your toes bring your hands to your lower legs or ankles. Over time your flexibility will increase and you will be able to touch your toes with ease.
If you have a previous joint injury, suffer from arthritis, or have an existing health problems talk to your healthcare provide before participating in stretching exercises. If you experience severe pain or unusual discomfort during exercise discontinue and seek immediate medical assistance.