WholeLife Matrix: Health and WellBeing – Exercise and Fitness – Flexibility
“Make an effort to perform each exercise through a full range of motion to reap major flexibility benefits.” – Jeremy DuVall, M.S., CPT
Improving flexibility by stretching is an important part of a workout routine. Stretching helps you to get the most out of your workout and eliminates tightness in your body. Flexible muscles let your joints move through a full range of motion and prevent repetitive stress injury.
Benefits of Stretching
In addition to improving your performance and reducing injury, stretching can help to improve your posture and reduce lower back pain and muscle soreness. It helps by increasing blood and nutrients to the tissues and improving coordination. Your stress level will be reduced and you will enjoy your exercise routine more.
When to Stretch
You should be completely warmed up before you begin to stretch. It is also good to stretch after your workout when your muscles have become very warm and pliable. Stretching throughout the day can also reduce tension and stress, so it is a good idea to do some stretches when you have breaks during your work day.
Areas to Stretch
Stretch the muscles that you are focusing on using during your workout. If you have limited time for stretching, concentrate on major muscles or the muscles that are usually the tightest such as your calves, chest, hamstrings, quads, and hips.
How to Stretch
Spend at least five minutes on stretching. As you hold a stretch, the sensation of tightness should diminish. Stretch to the point when you feel a gentle pull on your muscle – before your start to feel discomfort. Do not bounce when doing static stretches; bouncing can result in a pulled muscle. Breathe out into the stretch and do not hold your breath. Each stretch should be held for approximately 15 to 30 seconds. If you feel pain or too much tightness, stop the stretch. Shake out your limbs in between stretches and do two to three stretches before doing the next exercise.
Types of Stretching
There are several types of stretching. These include Ballistic stretching, Dynamic stretching, Active stretching, Passive (relaxed) stretching, Static stretching, Isometric stretching, and PNF stretching. The most popular type of stretching is static stretching. It involves stretching a muscle to its furthest point and maintaining that position.
There are also popular exercises that you can do to increase your flexibility that involve stretching, such as yoga.
In the WholeLife Matrix, we have four aspects for developing and accessing flexibility:
Picking a type of exercise that you enjoy doing that involves stretching is a great way to get the benefits or exercise while, at the same time, also improving your flexibility.
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