STRETCHING. IT’S NOTHING TO GROAN ABOUT!
Do you feel like you’re stretched too thin? There never seems to be enough time in the day for everything we need to do. Do your kids tell you how inflexible you are? You just never bend the rules! Our personal trainers are here to help you this month with your stretching. It just may help you to be more flexible! Maybe not in the way your kids would appreciate, but it will do YOU a world of good. The benefits from stretching may even help you feel less stressed or not stretched too thin. Stretching your muscles provides some wonderful benefits such as:
- Correcting muscle imbalances
- Increasing joint range of motion
- Relieving joint stress
- Maintaining the normal functional length of all muscles
- Improving function
- Avoid overuse injuries
Spending some time stretching each day will help keep your body balanced and allow for proper movement when you engage in more physically demanding activities. Slacking off and forgetting about proper posture or subjecting our bodies to the same repetitive motions without proper stretching can cause muscle dysfunction. This often leads to a decrease in normal elasticity of the muscle and ultimately limits our range of motion.
Pick the stretch that’s right for YOU! There are four main modalities for stretching the various muscle groups: Static, Self-Myofascial Release (Foam rolling), Active-Isolated, and Dynamic.
Static and Self-Myofascial Release are recommended for general stretching after completing either a warm up or when cooling down after working out. Studies have shown that holding a Static stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds on one muscle, or group of muscles, can produce greater results over other types of stretching. Maintaining a static position for 30 seconds allows the muscles to relax and be lengthened without straining the muscle itself. Self-Myofascial Release (SMR), also known as foam rolling, is particularly useful when addressing tight adhesions or knots in the muscles. The proper way to foam roll is to roll until you find a sensitive spot and hold the roller on that spot for 30 seconds to release muscular tension. Active-Isolated stretching can be obtained by holding a stretch for 1–2 seconds and performing 5–10 repetitions. Examples of Active Isolated stretching include:
- Hamstring Stretch: Lying on your back, raise one leg at a time, hold the back of your leg with your hands behind your knee, and gently pull your leg forward toward your upper body. Hold for 1–2 seconds, release, and repeat 5–10 times.
- Latissimus Dorsi Ball Stretch: Using an exercise ball, get down on all fours with one arm stretched across the ball thumbs up, then roll the ball forward and press your chest toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your lats. Hold 1–2 seconds, release, and repeat 5–10 times.
- Pectoral Stretch: Standing with arms stretched out at shoulder height, place one hand on a stable surface and lean forward with a slight twist until you feel a comfortable stretch in your pecs. Hold 1–2 seconds, release, and repeat 5–10 times.
Dynamic stretching can be obtained by repeating the stretch for 10 reps on each side for 2 sets.
- Forward Lunge with a Twist: Lunge forward keeping your knees at right angles. As you are in the forward position, twist to the side of your forward leg then return to the starting position. Alternate legs for 10 reps, 2 sets.
- Squat to Calf Raise: Perform a regular squat, keeping knees over ankles and toes pointing forward, then come up to a standing calf raise. Repeat for 10 reps, 2 sets.
Please remember, stretching should be in your workout routine! I am happy to assist you with proper stretching exercises and techniques or any of your fitness goals.
Jeff Wentzel is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at (707) 799-6436. Jeff also works the Fitness Floor on Tuesdays 3:45–7:45pm and Saturdays 8–12pm.