Monday, June 8, 2015

5 Important Facts About Stretching

Think you know your flexibility habits?  See what the nation's most qualified fitness professionals have to say about Yoga, stretching, joint health and how your lifestyle affects your long-term mobility!

#5:  Stretching should be everywhere.  While most people tend to stretch just the common muscle groups, this actually leads to muscle imbalance.  For example, if you're stretching your chest muscles without also stretching your back muscles, you could be perpetuating an imbalance.  The same goes for stretching the front of your thighs without spending about equal time on the back thigh muscles. A PPT professional can determine the best plan for your healthy joints and modify it as needed.

#4:  Stretching should be minimal (or avoided) before or during strenuous exercise.  It's important to understand that stretching muscles doesn't just lengthen them, but it helps them to relax, and decrease tone.  Essentially, stretching your muscles reduces their ability to work.  While this is necessary post-exercise, this isn't usually ideal before or during vigorous aerobic or strength conditioning.  In general, we recommend you avoid stretching before or during exercise (with few exceptions) and leave it for the end of your workout.

#3:  How does Yoga help?  Yoga tends to be, primarily, focused on stretching muscles (along with some core conditioning, with most instructors).  And, since the world of Yoga usually tends to hold each stretch for an appropriate period of time, Yoga creates healthy stretching for the muscles that it stretches.  See #5 above, though!  Most Yoga programs and instructors leave out some important muscles, and don't generally incorporate the principles of muscle balance.  A PPT fitness and wellness professional can help you add to your Yoga program to ensure a fully-appropriate flexibility program.
#2:  Intensity Matters!  "Feeling it" won't help as much as you'd think unless you're providing just the right amount of muscle tension.  Try to reach a point of discomfort without pain to be more helpful in your flexibility conditioning.  If you're stretching maximally and still don't feel challenged, don't worry -- you're still improving your muscle health, but you probably already have very flexible muscles.

#1:  Follow the Recommendations:  Even if your muscles feel flexible, you'll want to reach the "normal" score for each major joint (PPT professionals will help you understand how to score this).  Aim to stretch each major muscle at least three time per week, preferably five days per week for at least 30 seconds.  Breathe deeply and try to relax during your stretches.  It's especially important to stretch following your strength-training and cardiovascular workout.

Learn much more about long-term joint health, muscular balance and keeping your body mobile during the aging process.  Reach us on our contact page or, to talk in-depth about your fitness & wellness program, call Client Services Director Val Fiott directly at (877)698-3648 ext 7018.

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