Sunday, October 07, 2007 - The Importance of Stretching

The Importance of StretchingDo you remember to stretch before you begin your workout routine? If you’re not stretching before your workout, you could be putting yourself at risk for a serious injury. Besides avoiding a workout-related injury, stretching can also improve your posture, make you stronger, reduce your cholesterol and even help you to lose weight.

Sounds great and your ready to get started, right? Not so fast. Knowing how to stretch is also important factor when it comes to stretching before a workout. Before you stretch make sure you avoid these common habits.

· The most common mistake people make is stretching until they are in pain. Pushing your body way beyond normal is just asking for trouble and injury to your muscles. Instead, take your time when stretching and only go as far as a little discomfort.

· Ease into that stretch instead of moving quickly. Sudden jerks and movements before your muscles are warmed up can cause your muscles to tear.

· Breathe in. Breathe out. Focusing on your breathing will actually allow your body to relax and make you stronger before your workout.

Now that you know how to stretch, here are a few stretching exercises you may want to try before your workout.

Side Stretch: Begin by standing with your feet a shoulder-width apart. Next, lift your right arm up and over towards your left side until your elbow is pointing up toward the ceiling. Gently lean as far as you can to the left side and hold for a count of 20 seconds. Return to your standing position and repeat with the opposite side.

Lunge Stretch: Begin by bending your right knee until it is inline with your right ankle and step 2 feet back with your left foot. Be sure that your left leg is straight and your left foot is flat on the floor. Keeping your left foot flat on the floor, bend your body weight slightly forward and touch the floor with both of your hands. Hold for a count of 20 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Seated Leg Stretch: Sitting with your bottom flat on the floor, bring your legs straight out in front of you. Your toes should be pointed up toward the ceiling. Bring your body forward, extend your arms straight out and touch your toes. Hold the position for a count of 20 seconds. Return to the starting position. Bring your legs out until they are a shoulder-width apart. Bring your body forward and extend your arms straight out toward your left toes. Hold for a count of 20 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat for the right leg.


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