This is important. We know this, but do we do it? Stretches improves flexibility of muscle and joints. Without stretching we are all more vulnerable to injury. Think of a young pliable sapling versus an old, inflexible branch. Stretching helps to keep vital fluids flowing through the body and joints that help flush toxins from these areas and maintain elasticity and flexibility so that our body can flex and sway rather than snap and break.

Before, During or After Workouts?
Not all fitness experts agree on whether it’s best to stretch before, during and/or after a workout, but they all agree on this: stretching is important. They also all agree that it’s imperative to warm up before engaging in any significant physical activity. We favor pre-workout warm-ups, stretching during exercise as needed–you’ll know if you feel the need–and extended post workout stretching when the muscles are really warm and the increased blood flow ramps up the cellular traffic and nutritive delivery.

Benefits of stretching:

• Increased energy levels

• Increased flexibility

• Improved balance

• Increased circulation of the blood to body parts

• Greater sense of well-being

• Reduced muscle tension

• Injury prevention (with combined warm up)

• Enhanced muscular coordination

My Trainer Fitness workouts can be tough so be nice to your body after working it hard, and before heading for the gym door, stop for a few stretches. We didn’t have room to include stretches on the cards, but you’ll know what to do: just basic stretching all over with an emphasis on where you need it most. Just 5-15 minutes of stretching after each workout can save you days and even months in injury recovering.

How long should I hold a stretch?
You shouldn’t. That is to say that experts recommend against holding a stretch, called static stretching, BEFORE warming up and working out. The term for holding a stretch is “Static Stretch” which slowly elongates the muscles when held for 15-30 seconds at full extension. Try stretching once per muscle group for 30 seconds.

[Excerpted from My Gym Trainer 1]

TYPES of STRETCHES: There are three kinds of stretches:

Dynamic, Static and Isometric.
Dynamic Stretching involves gentle stretches while in motion; nobouncing or forcing. This is the only type of stretch that should beperformed before your workout.

Isometric Stretches involve the pressing or pulling against a solidand immovable object and is considered one of the most effective forms of stretching. For example, pulling or pushing against a wall, doorway or bar; using the ground to push against while in a lunge position to stretch the calves. The idea is to use leverage to “pull” or “push” yourself into a more intense stretch than could naturally be achieved with bodyweight alone.

Static Stretches are characterized by stretching slightly past the point of comfort without injury and then holding it. These should not be particularly painful but will definitely elicit a stretch. Hold 10-30 seconds for each stretch.

Yoga is a great way to stretch and relax and incorporates all three of these stretching techniques. A good yoga class at least once a week can be a great addition to any exercise regimen and should leave your body feeling very relaxed and well-balanced, while aiding the recovery of muscles your have worked during the week.

Flexibility training elicits a feeling of rejuvenation and more importantly–aids in the nourishment of muscles and soft tissues by increasing blood-flow and nutrients to these areas of optimum strength function and body composition.

So……… remember to s…t…r…e…t…c…h…! You’ll be glad you did.