The body is amazing. And it is simply amazing because it is flexible. It is supposed to be flexible. You are able to bend down and reach for that something which you have dropped on the floor. You are able to zip the back of your favourite dress on your own. You are able to twist around and use your hands to touch your butt easily. You are able to reach that book you need to read at the top of the shelf.
What I have described are simple activities. Nothing too mind boggling nor too difficult to imagine. What you did was to merely stretch out a bit either to the top, bottom or to the sides.
But wait…are you starting to feel some discomfort just by doing what I have described above?
If the answer is yes, then you have to really learn how to stretch your limits. In short, you need a stretching programme.
In our younger days when we were more supple and flexible, touching our toes or bending over were too easy. But if I were to ask you to do them now, I’m sure some of you will groan, moan and cry out in discomfort. What has happened?
Our supple and flexible body has over the years, owing to our sedentary and exercise-bereft lifestyle taken on a new lease of life on its own. Gone are the days when we were the commanders of our bodies. Let the truth unveil itself for you and take this test now.
Sit down against a wall with your legs on the floor in front of you and try to touch your toes. If you can’t or struggle to get there, then you know you really need to do something about it less the situation worsens as the years go by.
What Is Stretching?
Simply put, stretching is simply the act of extending to full length the body or simply a part of it. This activity involves straightening or stretching the structure or the limbs.
How Should One Stretch?
Stretching is fairly easy. As I shared in the beginning of this article, we actually involve stretching in many of our normal day to day activities. It is just we may not be aware of them. Stretching can be done by any person, regardless of age.
However the extent of stretching and flexing differs. The muscles tighten as a person ages. The range of joint movements can be minimized. This can very well obstruct an on-the-go lifestyle. That is why as the person grows older, bending or flexing becomes more limited. This is why stretching regularly, as part of a routine is very important.
Simple stretches can be done everyday. It can be incorporated in the lifestyle and the daily activities. It does not require much of your time.
Stretching exercises can also be done while training. Actually, stretching is an essential part of any training or sport. It must be done first before anything else. Stretching the body and the limbs is a good preparation for a more rigorous activity. In the same way professional athletes stretch before playing their sport, so do my clients.
I make it a point to teach my clients simple yet effective stretching techniques before they start weights training. Comprising just 12 simple stretching techniques and taking up no more than 10 minutes, stretching helps my clients prepare their bodies and give it ample opportunity to move and flex the muscles, helping them condition it for more complicated and strenuous movements when they start lifting weights thereafter. In between each set, my clients are also reminded to stretch that particular muscle which they have just worked out. This is equally crucial.
The benefits of stretching are manifold. Let me just discuss 7 of them.
Benefit #1: Increases The Range of Movement
As one constantly does the stretching exercises, the length of the muscles and the tendons also increase. This in turn helps to increase the range of your movement. Thus, the limbs and joints will be able to move, way before an injury can take place. You are definitely physically fit.
Benefit #2: Increases Ability to Perform Skills
When you have a wide range of movement, the more you will be able to do more things. For example, you can jump high without feeling any pain when you land back on the floor. This will also help you start a new sport or improve more if you are in one. Stretching in this aspect also allows you to have a more active lifestyle.
Benefit#3: Prevents Injury
One can prevent injury to joints, tendons and muscles with stretching. When the muscles and tendons are well-flexed, they are considered in good working order. This will help in a faster recovery and decreased soreness. The muscles of the body will be able to take more exhausting and rigorous movements with less probability of being injured. This is the Number One reason why I insist on all stretching in between sets.
Benefit #4: Reduces Muscle Tension
If the muscles are given their regular exercises and stretching, it is less likely that they will contract. This will definitely relieve you of any muscle pain or problems.
Benefit #5: Enhances Energy
Being able to move more will also give you more energy. Stretching will also help enhance your awareness, like knowing that you have a body that is capable of doing many things. As such, you are going to be more driven to move rather than sulk in the corner.
Benefit #6: Reduces Cholesterol
Research shows that doing prolonged stretching exercises, like yoga, will help reduce the cholesterol in the body. This of course must be done with a healthy diet at hand. This could prevent and even reverse the hardening of the arteries, allowing you to avoid coronary diseases.
Benefit #7: Prevents Stroke
According to research from Japan’s National Institute of Health and Nutrition, middle-aged and older adults who undertook a stretching exercise regime significantly improved the flexibility of their carotid artery, which carries oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Should the carotid artery be blocked, it can lead to a stroke.
Stretch Yourself Today!
Incorporate stretching in your everyday lifestyle. It has benefits you cannot say no to. It also does not require much of your time. It can be your usual activities, bending and flexing every now and then. After all, your fitness is everything so do what it takes to keep your body healthy. If you need help, we’ll be happy to be of assistance. Contact us now 🙂
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