GET STARTED with Physical Activity – Stretching
By Ruben Guerena – Physical activity professional at Sanoviv Medical Institute
Ok my fellow bloggers, how are you doing so far? I truly hope that the information we are sharing with you, encourages you to get up and work on the most beautiful thing in the world… Yourself! I always tell the people that I get the opportunity to work with, that it’s ok to give love, time and words of encouragement to friends and loved one’s, but never forget to give those same things to yourself. Even Superman needs to recharge his batteries from time to time. So no matter how busy your day is it’s very important that you make time for you and your body. Make an appointment with yourself and stick to it. Even if you only have 5, 10 or 15 minutes of free-time in a day, your body will thank you for it. Believe me!
Presently, it is very common to work from 8 to 10 hours a day or maybe more, sitting in front of a computer or driving almost the whole day. Because of this, 6 out of 10 people will suffer from lower back pain, tight hamstrings and the main cause of this is lack of flexibility. Does this sound familiar to you? I told you that this week’s topic would be stretching, so let’s GET STARTED.
Stretching helps increase flexibility, range of motion and circulation and most importantly it can help alleviate stress.
There are many stretching techniques that you can do. But since the GET STARTED program is all about making exercise easy and safe, I will recommend you use the static technique which is basically a slow, gradual stretch that you hold for 15 to 30 seconds. You can choose from dozens of static stretches, but if you are pressed for time here are 5 stretches that you can do daily or on the days that you exercise.
Lie on your back on the floor, lift your knees, grabbing from behind the legs, and squeeze your upper thighs to your chest. Hold for one deep breath. Keep your shoulders on the floor or mat, slowly lower legs to the right. Let your back stretch for one deep breath; then lift your knees up and repeat on the left.
Still lying on the floor on your back, grab your left leg behind the thigh, and pull it toward your chest. Slowly straighten out your leg until it’s vertical. Lower it down to the ground. Repeat with your right leg. If you can’t reach behind the thigh, you can use a piece of fabric or a belt; just make sure you place it on the arch of your foot and follow the same instructions.
Lie on your right side. Reach down with your left hand and grab your left ankle. Slowly pull your ankle back toward your rear. Release after you feel a light stretch. Roll onto your left side and repeat with your right leg.
4. Shoulders and neck
While sitting upright, relax your shoulders and slowly turn your chin to your left shoulder, then to your right. Slowly cock your head to your right shoulder, then your left.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly rotate your hips clockwise as if you were Hula-hooping. Complete 10-12 rotations and repeat, rotating counterclockwise.
Do not hold your breath while you stretch. Holding your breath will not only make your heart rate rise in a snap, but your muscles will automatically tense up and you do not want that to happen. Remember to always stay relaxed while you stretch and take deep breaths. As you exhale, you can go deeper into each stretch.
Stretching is not a contest. You must never get to the point of pain because pain equals injury. Know your bodies limit and respect it. Your body will love you for that. Always remember to hold a stretch to the point of mild tension and after holding for 30 seconds to one minute, the tension will go away. Once this happens, you can go deeper into the stretch, again to the point of mild tension. This is how you slowly and safely stretch your muscles.
If you have recently suffered a sprain, torsion or rupture, if you have any degree of osteoporosis or if you have any swollen joints, please consult your physician before starting any type of exercise program.