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Stretch: It’s A Must!

Stretch: It’s A Must!

If there’s one universal truth about stretching, it’s that we all should do it. Yet few of us actually do. It’s the part of a workout that most people tend to skip. It can make a difference in how your muscles respond to exercise. Stretching warms your muscles, and warm muscles are more pliant.

Did you know

Here are some good-to-know facts about stretching:

  1. The best time to stretch is after exercise, when your muscles are warm. It’s safer to stretch a warm muscle, and warm muscles are more relaxed and have greater range of motion. However, walking briskly or jogging for five minutes, until you break a light sweat, is a sufficient warm-up for stretching.
  2. Stretching should NOT be uncomfortable. Actually, if stretching is painful, you’re going too far. Instead, move into a stretch, and stop when you feel tension. Breathe deeply while you hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Then relax, and repeat the stretch, trying to move a little bit further into it during the second stretch.
  3. You should hold a stretch for at least 15 seconds. Most experts now agree that holding a stretch for 15 to 30 seconds is sufficient.

Knowing exactly what to stretch and how can be confusing! So here are a few Beginner’s stretches to help out!

  • Overhead stretch (for shoulders, neck, and back)Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees and hips relaxed. Interlace your fingers and extend your arms above your head, palms up. Take 10 slow, deep breaths, elongating the stretch on each exhale. Relax, and repeat once more.
  • Torso stretch (for lower back)Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent. With your hands at the small of your back, angle your pelvis forward while pointing your tailbone backward slightly; feel the stretch in your lower back. Pull your shoulders back. Hold for 10 deep breaths; repeat once more.
  • Cat and cow stretchGet down on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders, your back flat, and your toes pointed behind you. Tighten your abdominal muscles, arch your back, and drop your head down so you’re looking at your stomach. Hold for 10 seconds, breathing deeply. Now lower your back until it’s swayed, simultaneously raising your head. Hold for 10 seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat four times.

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