Better flexibility brings better performance in your chosen field of athletics. It decreases your risk of injury through moving your joints about its full range of motion. Stretching also enables your muscles to work at higher levels of efficiency. Stretching also increases blood flow to your muscles. In this it helps with recovery from exercise by speeding nutrients into your muscles and lactic acid out. Stretching should be done at a minimum of three times per week.
Improves range of motion in joints and muscles – how far a muscle/joint can move without injury; We get this by applying constant pressure to a muscle group in order to lengthen it. This lengthening improves the range of motion and reduces the stiffness and soreness. You should not, however, stretch after your workout, just before.
Warm up then stretch
First, warm up. Get your blood pumping a bit and your muscles loosened up some in order to elevate your core temperature. This has neuromuscular benefits as it improves the brain-body connection and function. This can also psychologically get you pumped up for your routine. Warm ups also help to increase metabolism (prime the pump to burn more calories). Studies have proven that warming up and doing passive stretches, that it is not bouncing but holding the static stretch, improve muscular performance during your workout. The result is that your muscles work at higher levels of efficiency.
Improves muscular coordination
Nerve-muscle impulse, or the time it takes for messages to get from your brain to your muscles, is a factor in how our body moves. Say that you are having a hard time walking due to stumbling or tripping over your feet. This may be due to brain messages not being transmitted effectively to the muscles in your legs.
Here are some Do Nots to keep in mind
- Stretch the muscle groups that you will be using
- Do NOT bounce, hold the stretch for 30 seconds
- Do not try to balance and stretch. Yes, it is fun and a great way to show off. It is also a great way to fall on your kiester, get hurt, and sideline yourself early on in your fitness routine.
Do stretch for tension, not pain. If you are experiencing pain, as in. “Oh, now that is NOT right.” Stop. See your doctor. Stretching will, as in must be and will be, done daily. At least, I am going to be doing the stretches herein daily. It's part of my challenge to me and to you.
Fast Walking 10 minutes Or Jump Rope 3 minutes
Jumping Jacks 25
Seal Jacks 25
– This requires some explanation. It will also require some getting used to and a good bit of laughing at yourself as you get accustomed to this. The only difference between these and jumping jacks is what you do with your arms. You start out with your feet together and your arms out straight in front of you, hands together. When you jump and spread your feet apart you spread your arms out your sides so that you would look something like a starfish. You jump up and pull your feet together and you swing your arms together out in front of you just as you did when you started. Please, keep your arms as straight as possible throughout the exercise.
Standing Side Bend
This stretch will work on your Abdominal Obliques which are located between your floating ribs and the tops of your hip bones.
Stand with your feet together and reach up over you head with both
This stretch will work your frontal deltoids and your rotator cuff. The deltoids are your shoulder muscles and are in three parts or heads. The rotator cuff is the thin and vitally important layer of connective tissue that provides smooth and painless movement for this ball and socket joint. Believe me, you do NOT want to go through ANY kind of joint pain here.
Reach behind you and put your hands together with your fingers interlaced. If you can't mange this, you can use a small towel. It's all good, you're working on it! Feet should be shoulders width apart. Now, bending at the hips, lean forward, exhale, and raise your hands towards your head. This movement is done at the shoulder and is where you will feel some stretching.
Seated Back Twist
This is mainly for the Erector Spine. These are the muscles that are along each side of your spinal column. Their purpose it to keep your spine erect and flexible. There are a multitude of things going on back there, as this picture plainly shows. As anyone who has had back problems can attest to, as well. Which is why it is vitally important to maintain a healthy and strong back. If you have ANY problems with this one before trying it, see your doctor. I do NOT want you to aggravate an already existing issue.
Honestly, this is one of my favorites! It has helped me out of SO much back pain over the years. Sit down and extend your left leg. Cross your right leg over your left so that your right foot is as close to your left hip as possible. Place your left elbow on the right side of your right knee. Press back with your left elbow lightly. This should be forcing you to twist tightly to the right. It should be tight and make breathing a little difficult due to that tightness. Hold this for 5 slow breaths and then repeat on the other side.
The Quadriceps are the four muscles that make up your thigh.
Standing near something for support, reach behind you with your right hand and grab your left foot. Gently pull up on your left foot and hold it steady. You should feel and look somewhat like a bow without an arrow. Hold this for 30 seconds. Do it 2 or 3 times and then repeat on the other leg.
What we call the Hamstring is the Bicep Femoris, Semitendinosis, and the Semimebranosus. These muscles are located on the back of the leg opposite the thigh muscles.
Stand with your feet together. Do not lock your knees in this, but keep them just slightly bent. Bend at the hips and let your upper body hang down. Reach a little bit further. Hold this for 30 seconds. Repeat this two more times.
The calf is the meaty portion of your lower leg. It's also the spot where many of us get the dreaded and hated Charlie Horse … I know that is where I get them when I do get them …
Stand one or two steps from a wall or telephone pole or something stable. Step in with one foot and keep the heel of the back foot down. Also, keep that back leg straight and in line with your hips and shoulders. Lean in towards the wall, or whatever you're using. You can have your hands up on that vertical surface. If you don't feel a gentle, tight pull in your calf you need to move your back foot further back and try it again. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat 2 more times.
Pectoralis Major and Minor are your chest muscles.
Lift one arm up so that your upper arm is straight out to the side and your forearm is straight up in the air. Place the upright portion of your arm against the wall, pole or whatever you used for the calf stretch. Now, turn so that you feel the stretch across the muscle of your chest. That is the pectoral muscle. Hold this for 5 slow breaths then repeat on the other side.
Latisimus Dorsi are the large muscles that go from the back of your shoulders down to the base of your spine. They also wrap inwards from around your rib cage.
Stand with your feet a little more than shoulders width. Raise your right arm over your head and grab your right wrist with your left hand. Bend to your left side and pull on your right arm with your left hand. Hold for 5 slow breaths then repeat on the other side.
This stretching routine is to be done as part of a daily workout routine, as I alluded to above. One that I will be doing as part of a video fitness blog and posting soon. I really hope to see you there. Please, join me on what will be a 2 month trek to better flexibility, strength, and stamina.
At any rate, please consider the importance of stretching and how you could integrate it into your daily routine. Apply these simple stretches so that you may find and enjoy more flexibility and less pain in your daily life and mobility.