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Stretching Tips For Better Flexibility Print E-mail
Jim Plummer   
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
 Stretching Tips For Better FlexibilityThese stretching tips will help you properly incorporate stretching into your fitness program. Stretching should be a part of everyone's fitness program. Stretching increases flexibility, and increased flexibility will help you comfortably and fluidly perform life's daily activities and help reduce the risk of muscle, joint and tendon injuries.

Stretching can also often alleviate low back pain. Muscle tightness in the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and low back muscles is a common cause of low back pain. Stretching these muscles will often eliminate the pain.

1. Be consistent with your stretching routine. Stretching for a few minutes each day will gradually build flexibility and range of motion. This is far preferable to stretching only once a week for a longer time.

2. Never stretch cold muscles. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury, and several studies have shown that stretching cold muscles slightly decreases muscle strength and power for up to an hour after stretching. Warm up first, then stretch.

3. Never force a stretch beyond the point of mild tension.
Stretching is not an activity that is meant to be painful; it should be pleasurable, relaxing and very beneficial. Too many people believe that to get the most from their stretching they need to be in constant pain, but this is one of the greatest mistakes you can make when stretching.

4. Your flexibility changes day to day, so you may not be able to perform your stretching routine in the same manner with the same results at each session.

5. Never throw your body into a stretch or bounce when stretching. Stretching should be fluid and gentile. Stretching slowly and gently helps to relax your muscles, which in turn makes stretching more pleasurable and beneficial. This will also help to avoid muscle tears and strains that can be caused by rapid, jerky movements.

6. Breathe slowly and easily while stretching. Many people unconsciously hold their breath while stretching. This causes tension in your muscles, which in turn makes it very difficult to stretch. To avoid this, remember to breathe slowly and deeply during your stretching. This helps to relax your muscles, promotes blood flow, and increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.

7. Time yourself and try to increase your time in each stretch by a few seconds each week. Start with 10-15 seconds and extend this by 5 seconds each week until you can hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds.

8. Never stretch an injury.
Wait until the injury has healed, then start stretching.

By following these stretching tips, you'll make sure that you're performing your stretches properly and maximizing the benefits of stretching.

Jim Plummer is a longtime health and fitness enthusiast. Read his review of The Stretching Handbook, a quick reference guide that covers every possible stretching exercise for every major muscle group in the body. Also visit his website, http://www.functional-fitness-facts.com, for plenty of health and fitness information and advice.

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