Stretching is a powerful part of your exercise regimen -- it increases flexibility, improves circulation, reduces injury and relieves stress. Also, it feels good!
Many tend to skip the stretching part of an exercise routine, which can be detrimental. As you get older, your muscles get tighter and your range of motion in joints can be minimized. Stretching does not have to involve a big-time commitment; it instead can give you great results.
Warm up before you stretch. Warm muscles are easier to stretch than cold muscles and you may hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles. You can warm up on a stationary bike or do a light jog at a low intensity for about 10 minutes. After you warm up, this is now the time to stretch.
Don't rush while stretching! Pace yourself. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely, so hold your stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, then repeat on other side (or other arm or other leg or other corresponding muscle). Also, don't bounce while stretching -- this can cause small tears in the muscle, which makes your muscles even tighter and more prone to pain. Your stretching should be pain-free. Feeling some tension is okay, but if it hurts to stretch, you are stretching too hard. Ease up!
Don't forget to stretch after you exercise. Post-exercise stretching can aid in workout recovery and decrease soreness in your muscles. Here are a few that we think are good to do:
- Butterfly Stretch (groin muscles): Sit on floor, press your feet together and hold your legs by the ankles and press elbows down on your knees. Go as low are you comfortably can.
- Standing Toe-Up Calf Stretch (shown in picture): Stand with one knee bent and the other leg straight out in front. Point your toe towards body and lean forward. You can use your hand to stretch the toes and upper foot back. Repeat on other side.
- Upper Arm Stretch: Place right hand on left shoulder. Use left hand to stretch right elbow toward your left shoulder. Repeat on other side.
Keep up with your stretching. Make it a part of your exercise routine -- if you don't, you will lose all the flexibility and other benefits you gained from the consistent stretching. You can even stretch if you don't work out. Just make sure you do so at least 2-3 times per week.
BRING OUT THE WARRIOR IN YOU!
Ruben Belliard and Alex Fell are the owners of Warrior Fitness Boot Camp. Former roommates in the Marine Corps, Ruben and Alex have joined together to bring their military experience to the public with their Warrior Fitness Boot Camp gym located in midtown, New York City.