Since our Healthy Living Blog is just warming up, I thought it would be neat to talk about the proper ways to warm up your body by stretching. Proper stretching techniques will not only lower your risk of injury, but they will also help manage your heart rate, reduce muscle tension and increase muscle memory. "It is important to remember a few key pieces of information, Samantha Day PT, DPT from Hoag Memorial Hospital, CA says. Here are a few ground rules she shared with us about stretching:
1) Each warm-up and cool-down should last at least 5 minutes or more
2) Be sure your stretching the correct muscles and balance your routine. Work opposing muscle groups each time you stretch. If you start by stretching the muscles in the back of your thigh, then follow by stretching the muscles at the front
3) Never bounce, instead use slow even movements when stretching. Bouncing places too much stress on your muscles and joints
4) Hold the stretch longer. Stretches should be held for at least 15 to 30 seconds
5) Stretch every area including arms, legs, shoulders, feet, hips, neck and back
6) Maintain proper posture by keeping your head aligned with your spine and making sure your knees don’t extend over your toes
7) Be sure to breathe normally when stretching, don't hold your breath.
The secret to good stretching is smooth and steady incremental movements. The general rule is to begin with a shorter range of motion and a shorter set of exercises. You want to be building up progressively to help your body ramp up response, rather than jumping it into action. Only stretch to the point of mild discomfort. Once your muscle feels comfortable, increase the stretch then hold it again. If it hurts, you’re pushing too hard. If you do sustain an injury while stretching or working out, be sure to visit your doctor so you can begin healing right away.
To stay fit you should include stretching in your daily routine. 10 minutes everyday improves your balance, circulation, steady blood flow and strength. Don't be afraid to try something new or different. Sign up for a Yoga or Pilates class and spice up your workout.
Until next time, stay healthy!