You are as young as you are limber. That is a saying women who are deeply into yoga chant. There is truth to those words. Flexibility allows freedoms. You can tie your own shoelaces when you are limber. You can bend down to pick up your dog or cat. Your joints and tendons need to stay long and healthy.
Everyone can stretch. If you look at animals when they get up after sleeping you will see them stretch. Stress in your body is alleviated when you stretch. Have you noticed how tense you become when you are under stress? Taking a big breath and stretching can help the tension go away. Headaches and back aches can be prevented if you spend a few minutes breathing and stretching.
Your relationship with your body improves when you stretch. Often we forget about our bodies. Sometimes it seems our bodies just get in the way. It is important to take the time to relax, breath, stretch and become aware of your body. Your body tells you when things are amiss. Investing time in your body by keeping it limber is time well spent.
When should you stretch? You can stretch anytime; when you first get up in the morning, in the evening before you go to bed, at the office after working on the computer is a great time. It is important to do a few arm circles and walk around for a few minutes or march in place to warm up your muscles.
Getting your muscles warm and supple is important. You will get better results and lessen your chance of tearing a muscle. The goal is to lengthen your muscles not tear them. If you stretch on a cold muscle it can tear.
In the old days we would stretch before we ran. Now most trainers either lightly stretch before a workout or wait until after the workout to stretch.
How long should you hold the stretch? That is debatable. Most physical therapists say thirty seconds. My favorite book, ” Stretching” says ten seconds. The American Council On Exercise taught me fifteen seconds. Trying them all and finding what works for you is the best advise I can give you.
Breathing while stretching is crucial. That relaxes your muscles and allows them to lengthen.
In the old days we would bounce when we stretched. No more! There are two tendons that respond when you stretch. One tendon’s job is to prevent tears so it will tighten to prevent tearing. The other tendon’s job is to let the muscle lengthen. Holding a stretch activates the lengthening tendon while bouncing activates the shortening tendon. Holding a stretch without bouncing will produce better results.
Stretching is a natural thing that you want to do often. These few tips should help you get the most out of it.
By Lynn Hahn