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Get Ready To Stretch


A fitness injury can be painful, inconvenient, and ruin your exercise routine. Thankfully, though, there are ways to keep your body in top condition at every workout. In addition to practicing equipment safety, and proper form, you can significantly cut your risk of injury by regularly stretching your muscles.

Stretching should never be done immediately after resting for a long period. Rather, you want your muscles to be warmed up before you begin. This increases blood flow to the muscles, which makes them more flexible and less likely to experience strain. Some people also believe this improved circulation can aid your overall health by increasing the transportation of nutrients to cells.

So, add a few simple stretches mentioned below and start improving your flexibility today, and enjoy the rewards of what stretching can do for your workouts.

Neck, Scalene and Upper Trapezius:

This stretch helps to re-align the cervical spine and is good for posture. It improves breathing and alleviates neck pain. Office workers constantly on computers can do this stretch five or six times a day, and people who carry bags over one shoulder should also do it regularly.

Pectoralis Minor (chest):

This stretch will help pull your shoulders back into their rightful spot, reduce rounding of your shoulders and improve your breathing. Your lungs get compressed if your shoulders are rounded; you can’t breathe in properly because your ribcage is also compressed. This stretch will help bring your center of gravity back into alignment.

Posterior Deltoid and Shoulder Capsule:

This stretch is more focused on the shoulder capsule, the most mobile part of the body. A lot of people have adhesions – sticky and gluey tissues in the shoulder capsule – which restrict mobility. People who slouch, as well as tennis players, cricket bowlers and baseball pitchers, will benefit greatly from this stretch.

Erector Spinae (back extensors):

The objective here is to lengthen the spine, which helps to extend your back, giving you more of an upright stance. This is one of the most important postural muscles; it keeps your back straight. Most people are weak and tight in this area, and people who sit at desks all day are particularly vulnerable. This stretch helps correct slouching.

Upper Quadriceps (thigh):

This should be an integral part of any daily stretching routine because it works what could be the most used muscle in the body. This is what’s called the proximal attachment of the rectus-femorus, the second most important postural muscle, after the hip flexors. This stretch will improve knee extension and improve your gait. It’s also integral to increasing speed, strength and power. It’s essential to have strong but flexible quads, which give you a solid base and are important in stabilizing your knees.

Seated Bent Leg Hamstring:

The hamstrings flex the knee and extend the hip. They work synergistically with the gluteus maximus. This stretch will improve your speed and make climbing stairs effortless. Tight hamstrings slow the action of your quads, pulling you backwards like reins on a horse. The vast majority of people who work out have weak hamstrings and gluteals because they over-train their thighs and under-train their hamstrings.

Psoas Major and Minor (hip flexor):

This is one of the most important stretches you can do for lower back flexibility and general mobility. It’s also very beneficial for playing sports because it opens your stride and makes movement more efficient. The hip flexor is considered the body’s number one posture muscle.

Spine Rotator:

The spine contains your central nervous system, in a small hollow column called the dural tube. This little passageway goes all the way through your spine. Each of the 24 vertebrae need to move independently to create optimal motion. This rotational movement is one of the most important stretches for sports, particularly for golfers, batsmen or throwers. People who have weak backs due to prolonged sitting should do this stretch daily.

Internal Obliques (sides of upper body):

This stretch opens the internal obliques and is useful for sports people, or for any lateral lunging movements. People who do a lot of sitting in offices often favor one buttock, which tends to lock the hips in an upward position. If you carry a suitcase and lean to one side, it will tilt and compress your obliques. Symmetry is essential. If your pelvis is misaligned, all your vital organs will be as well. If one side is high and the other low, your kidney gets crunched. So this stretch offers relief for your vital organs.

Outside Lateral Gluteus Maximus (buttock):

This muscle group is used mainly to enhance speed. When you’re running and your leg is straight, it is powering and pushing off. The most important advantage of this stretch is that it works one of the muscle groups that help strengthen the pelvis. It’s also good for keeping the back in alignment. If the pelvis is out of alignment, spinal mobility will be affected. When you lie on your back, 50% of your weight is taken off your spine.

Believe it or not, stretching is not as simple as it may seem. So, before you institute a stretching regimen, be sure you understand the different kinds of stretches.

Content credit: Stretch your Life by Tim Noonan & Chris Watts. I personally admire the way authors have clearly indicated the exercises along with demonstrations, leaving less home for error and mistakes.

Related Links

Minimizing Sore Muscles

Stretching for fitness

Every Breath You Take

The Neck: Exercises to increase flexibility & muscle control.

Top 10 to building a strong lower back

Top 10 to Beautiful Bottoms

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