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Stretch It Out!

stretching-exercises

Stretch It Out!

by Natalie Butler, RD, LD

Stretching, like walking, can be done anytime, anywhere and does not cost a dime. But we often overlook the value that stretching can add to our health and forget to make it a part of our day. Why? Because it doesn’t seem like simply stretching a muscle can make a difference in our overall quality of life. But can it??

Here are the facts:arrow

    • Stretching helps lengthen your muscle fibers that have become shortened due to exercise. Tightness from shortened muscles can lead to more injuries.
    • Stretching can improve your flexibility. As we age, our flexibility has a more significant impact on our ability to perform simply daily tasks without getting hurt… like getting a box down from a high shelf, bending over to pick up something, holding a small child, etc.
    • Stretching can improve your range of motion, which is also important as you get older. A better range of motion can result in better balance and can reduce falls, strains and injuries.
    • Stretching can reduce the effects of stress! When you are stressed, you tend to tighten the same group of muscles often, like those in your upper back, trapezius, neck and shoulders.
    • Stretching can improve your posture. When you sit at a desk and hunch your back to lean towards your computer all day, some of your muscles lengthen and others shorten. Stretching can help re-balance these muscles that have changed to accommodate your poor posture.
    • Stretching can reduce lower back pain! Lower back pain can be attributed to many things like weak core muscles, weight carried in the midsection, tight buttocks, tight hamstrings, tight hips/hip flexures, and also poor posture. Stretching any tight muscles can help reduce the load on your back and helps activate the muscles that are supposed to hold you up.
    • Stretching can improve your circulation! When you focus on stretching your muscle groups, more blood flows to those areas, sending oxygen, nutrients and speeding up the process of healing and recovery.
    • Stretching can improve your strength! Some studies show that those who did regular stretching after weight training exercise routines increased their strength by 15-32%!

How to Do It:

The benefits of stretching before a workout are widely debated so I recommend you stretch at the end of a workout when your muscles are warm. Think of your muscles like taffy… when they are cold, they have less give. When they are warm, they can stretch and stretch, giving you more benefits.

Hold each muscle group for 30-60 seconds and deepen the stretch as you can tolerate. Pain is not your goal, but stretching may be uncomfortable if you are tight. If you are over age 60 and/or have pre-existing joint/muscle issues, stretching your muscles before an intense workout can reduce injury (but always warm up first).

stretching-exercises

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About the author

Viance Nutrition

Hi! I'm Walt Landi the founder and CEO of Viance Nutrition. Welcome to our Blog. I maintain this Blog as a free resource for anyone wishing to improve their health. Your comments and feedback are always welcomed and you can email me direct at walt@viance.com if you have any suggestions. Thanks. Ps. Spread the word and check out our products at viance.com. :)

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