You all know how much I love yoga and Pilates, and one of the reasons is the flexibility training. It is built right into many of the poses, moves and exercises. Ahh . . .stretching is so good for the muscles and the joints. If you are not stretching daily (the doctors of my new "bible" You on a Diet recommend 5 minutes a day — just five minutes a day, the length of two commercial breaks. Here are a few reasons why you should:
- If you do any strength or resistance training you are building new muscle. You want the new muscle to be long and lengthened and not tight. If it is tight it can interfere with the range of motion (ROM) of the joint. So stretch after you train.
- Maintaining and gaining flexibility decreases risk of injury from sports or basic activities in life (reaching into the back seat to get your fashionable, yet over sized purse).
- As we age our tendons and ligaments lose their elasticity, so it is important to stretch to maintain the ROM of your joints. Plus stretching helps bring nutrients to the joints.
- Stretching can improve your coordination. This is beneficial to sports but can help you out walking on rough terrain - a trail or a city street littered with potholes.
Just remember - Don't bounce when you stretch. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds and it is best to do deep stretching after you are warmed up a bit. If you vacuum vigorously, why not stretch your hamstrings afterward. Here are 5 different way to stretch the backs of your thigh. The photo above is a classic stretch for the quads, and it is great to do after running, walking or swimming.