Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Importance of Stretching

Okay before you start your workout routine do you do some sort of warm-up or do you just jump right in?

Please don't say you jump right in. You will hurt yourself! Thank goodness you stumbled on this post because I'll teach you how to stretch in your warm-up and cool-down today.

There are two types of stretches, dynamic and static.

DYNAMIC stretches are done BEFORE you begin any sort of workout or weight lifting. These are the stretches you do to get your blood pumping and your heart rate elevated. Warm up those muscles to prevent injury. "Cold" muscles will tear and pull in ways that you don't ever want to feel.

EXAMPLES of dynamic stretches:
Windmill arms: keeping your core still swing both your arms like a windmill slightly crossing your body as you bring your arms to the front.
Jumping jacks: a good way to get the muscles warmed up in your arms and legs.
Alternating toe touches: Take yourself back to your P.E. days. Start with a wide stance and your arms out to the side. Bend down touching your hand to the opposite foot and switch to the other side. You want to feel a comfortable stretch in your hamstrings, but nothing painful. (Also avoid these if you are prone to low back injuries.)
Full back stretch: Lie on your back and bring your knees into your chest. Roll forward until your feet touch the floor and then roll back. Do this 10-15 times. I find this one very relaxing.
Click here to see more dynamic stretches.

STATIC stretches are done at the end of a workout. Static stretches are meant to be held unlike dynamic stretches where you are active and moving. These stretches help to elongate the muscles and improve flexibility. This is best done after a workout because the muscles will be more willing to relax and stretch. You want to hold a static stretch for 30 seconds up to 2 minutes.

EXAMPLES of static stretches:
Mat seated splits: sit on the floor and spread your legs as far as you can. Reach to one side and hold on to your calf or foot depending on your flexibility. Repeat on the other side. Reach out in front of you as far as you comfotably can. Remember to hold 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Quadricep stretch: There are several ways to accomplish this exercise but I will explain just one way. Standing up bend your leg back and grab your foot with you opposite hand behind you. Keep your knees in to avoid knee injury. Repeat on the other side.
Side lunge: In a wide stance bend one knee until it is 90 degrees above your ankle and your other leg is straight. Feel the stretch in the straight leg. Repeat on the other side.
Shoulder stretch: Seated or standing bring your arm straight across your chest and hold with your opposite hand just above the elbow. Look over the shoulder that is across your body. Repeat with the other arm.
Click here for many, many options of static stretches.

Avoid injury and stay healthy.
Now go warm up and do 15 push-ups, 15 crunches, and 30 jumping jacks. Do this 3 times today!

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FITting it in will share amazing tips on how you can incorporate exercise and nutrition into your hectic and crazy life.
You're body won't know what hit it after you learn all the tricks of sneaking those exercises in during your day. In the car, at the store, through the house, walks around the block...
keep on reading, get hooked, and most importantly FIT it in!