Do you or someone you know grunt when standing up from a chair or getting out of a car? That grunt doesn’t necessarily mean that they are too weak to move gracefully; it can mean that they aren’t flexible enough to move without straining!
Have you ever noticed that some people seem stiff when they walk? Some don’t stand up straight. Some seem to shuffle because their stride is so short. You might think that this is easily corrected by just reminding them about their posture. This is only partially correct. They seem stiff because they ARE stiff. They aren’t flexible. Tendons, the tissues that connect muscle to bone, can shorten and tighten. When that happens, the posture reflects this condition. The person’s posture problem isn’t a sign of being too lazy or too old to stand up straight; it’s a sign of needing to add flexibility training to their fitness regime. If your neck muscles are tight, your head angles forward which forces your back to hunch over. If your shoulders and chest are tight, your shoulders round forward.
Do I need to mention what impression you give while stooping over, shuffling while walking and / or grunting while standing? You guessed it! It’s not so great! Impressions aside, being flexible makes you a better athlete and allows you to physically function better in your life! Good stuff!
So let’s make sure you know how to incorporate effective stretching into your routine. There are some long-standing myths about stretching; so, let’s start with making sure you aren’t still thinking old-school about stretching.
Years ago conventional wisdom said that you should stretch before doing any kind of exercise. Don’t do it!
- Always warm up before you stretch. Doing 5 -10 minutes of cardio will get everything ready. And, it’s very effective if you will take the time to stretch after your workout too!
Every time you should do stretches for each muscle group.
- Neck, shoulders, chest, upper back, and lower back
- Arms, wrists
- Front and rear thighs, hip flexors, calves and shins
- Hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds and slowly increase that time as you are able
- Don’t bounce or push yourself to pain. Only stretch enough to feel the mild tension.
- Make sure you breathe while stretching. Don’t hold your breath!
That’s it! Enjoy.