The older we get, our muscles tend to tighten up when we work them, and as a result the range of motion in our joints will be minimized. This can definitely put a damper on an otherwise active lifestyle and even place restrictions on our daily normal activities and motions. The results are that tasks that used to be simple, everyday motions such as zipping your dress or reaching for something on the top shelf, will now become especially difficult to accomplish. Help can be found in a regular stretching program. Stretching exercises can help lengthen and strengthen your muscles, making daily living activities far easier for you to do.
Stretching should be part of a routine, whether you exercise or not. Everyone can learn proper stretching, regardless of your flexibility or age. Many simple stretches can be accomplished while watching TV, working at the computer, or even while you’re getting ready for bed. For those who do strength training exercises, it will help to stretch in between sets. Your muscles will appreciate stretching at the end of the workout because it feels really good.
If you think of your muscles as being similar to rubber bands you can better understand how they work. Stretching exercises need not involve a large commitment of your time, but doing stretches will end up giving you fantastic results as listed below:
- Reduces tension in muscles
- Provides increasing range of joint movement
- Vastly improves muscular coordination
- Increases blood circulation to many parts of the body
- Improves your body’s energy level (from increased blood circulation)
- Blood is oxygenated thus feeding muscles (making them work easier)
Stretching is vital for people of any age. One of the greatest improvements and therefore beneficial to normal daily movement is being able to increase your range of motion, which means joints as well as each limb (arms and legs) can move further without worry of damaging your body. After exercises you will find stretching can also benefit in your workout recovery by decreasing soreness in muscles, and ensuring that each of your muscles and tendons are in good working order. The better condition you can keep your muscles and tendons in, the easier they will be able to handle the rigorous strain brought on by exercise, resulting in far less likelihood of becoming injured.
Stretching is a natural activity for each of us. You can notice that after sitting in the same position for a long time, your body will stretch unconsciously and it will feel especially good! And with that good feeling you can see how consistent stretching program will offer large gains in your body’s flexibility in joints and movement of each body part.
Let Your Stretching Routine Work For You
Stretching exercises, when done routinely, will prove to be highly beneficial as long as they are done properly. If not done consistently and properly, you may cause some serious damage. Below is some beneficial advice and tips that will allow your stretching exercises be handled safely and so you prevent injury:
- Warm up before beginning your stretching program. When muscles are still cold (stiff) the result may be pulls or tears. If you think of your muscles as being similar to rubber band, you can see how they may be stiffer and colder before stretching. You can easily stretch a warm rubber band, but when you over stretch a cold one, you risk it breaking or cracking. Don’t abuse your muscles by treating them like cold rubber bands! Your muscles will appreciate stretching as they warm up as well as at the end of a workout.
- Don’t lock your joints when stretching. In other words keep your elbows and knee joints bent slightly and you will avoid more unnecessary stress on those joints.
- Do not try to hold your breath while stretching. Just breathe normally, in through the nose and out through the mouth. This results in a much more relaxed stretching experience.
- Keep in mind that long-sustained, mild stretching reduces unwanted muscle tension and tightness so take your time and enjoy the experience.
- Never try to compare your results with those of others. Each individual has their own degree of flexibility. If you try to match your accomplishments with others it may lead to overstretching and injury.
- Avoid such stretching exercises as ballistic stretching or other short-duration, high-force stretches that use short quick bouncing type motions or high speed momentum. Your muscles will have much less control during these types of stretches, therefore far greater potential for risk of injury. Those forms of exercise do not allow your muscles time to adjust and relax in their stretched out position and will be far more apt to cause harm by repeatedly activating their stretch reflex.
- If it hurts, stop! You should never stretch to the point of causing your body pain.
- It’s always good advice to talk things over with your doctor. Tell him (or her) about any musculoskeletal injuries (current or prior) you may have incurred as well as any problems you feel might affect your ability to do stretching exercises effectively while keeping your body safe from injury.