How to Stretch Effectively

Photo Credit: www.Sunlighten.com   

Many people fail to stretch because they just don’t know how. The basics of flexibility are easy and once you get them down begin adding them into all your workouts for maximum benefits. Stretching may seem mild in comparison to your normal workout but don’t forget to stretch your muscles will thank you.

When you begin flexibility training start slow. Begin by holding stretches for 15-30 seconds at the point you feel tension in the muscle. Do not bounce as you hold these stretches, you’ll run the risk of hurting muscle tissue. We have a built in response system for muscle tension, and bouncing can damage muscle tissue by moving it beyond the threshold too quickly. Stretch all muscles you worked.

Try foam rollers to help you relieve soreness and deepen your stretches.

Many times stretching can help soreness. There are many theories surrounding muscle soreness, but stretching seems to relieve it. Begin by moving around or taking a hot shower or bath, allowing blood to reach muscle tissue, stretch muscles that are sore using the above guidelines, and feel better.

Remember: 

Warm Up Your Muscles
Start Slow
Move to the Point of Tension
Hold for 15-30 Seconds
Repeat Stretches 2-3 Times Per Muscle Group
AND Don’t Ignore Your Flexibility Training!

What is Flexibility Training?

Many times this fitness component gets left behind. Here’s why you should take this part of your exercise routine seriously.

Flexibility refers to our joints’ ability to move through their complete range of motion. This is very important to our fitness level because it allows us to perform the movements we want to do. If you are an athlete you’ll want to have the ability to move through full range so you are at the top of your game. If you are moving for health you’ll want to train for flexibility because supple joints allow you to move well.

Inadequate range of motion is the cause of many injuries. Lower back pain is often associated with tight abdominals, hip flexors, or hamstrings, and the more you hurt the less you move. The less you move the more tight your muscles become and the less you move. See where this leads?

As a component of fitness, flexibility training should be done after a workout, when the muscles are warm. Stretching after a workout allows your muscles to learn. They remember how far they stretch, which is how our flexibility grows. Performing flexibility training when the muscles are warm allows them to capitalize on the blood they have, creating more stretch safely.

Flexibility does have limits. We are genetically programmed to be more or less flexible, but not an excuse for not training. You will build upon what you have. Remember fitness is about where you are, not where you think you should be or where your neighbor is. It is all about you.

Feel like you need a tool to help you reach your flexibility goals? Try foam rollers.

Who Are You Changing For?

Many of us decide it’s time to do something different in our lives. But is this decision truly ours? Or has someone else put the idea we need to change into our head? When deciding to change honestly answer these two questions.

Once you have convinced yourself you are ready for change you must determine who you are changing for. The obvious answer may not be the real answer. Deeply look at your motivation, are you the reason for the change, or is a parent, spouse, doctor, sibling, friend, etc. Is it someone else’s idea or voice you hear?
If it is not you; commitment is likely to wane. Next determine why you want to change. As with the question of who, why is a critical factor in realizing a goal. Determine your why. Get passionate about it. Taste it, feel it, begin to live it.

Immersion into an idea is supported by research and will lead to change. In other words, find as many ways to support your new lifestyle, new activities, new thoughts, rewards, support, new ideas about how you could change your habits to support your new direction.

The more pathways you create in your brain to support this change the more likely you are to succeed. Believe with every cell in your body and it will manifest.

Change Is Hard

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen. You can and why not start today.

Change is hard. It is very hard. The truth is, changing is harder than staying the same, regardless of how I might beat myself up for failing to change. It is easier to continue smoking, eating poorly, or being sedentary even when I know these things are bad for me. Our food choices are based on their ability to fuel our bodies, release “feel good” hormones, and satisfy us, and we seek out activities that provide us pleasure. Pleasure is a personal choice which may not have anything to do with what is best for us.
If you are going to make a change in your life you have to be ready for discomfort – at least for a short while. In the beginning it will seem easier to go with your old routine rather than try a different activity. It will also feel better (comfortable) to stick to the old. Starting something new usually requires a little risk, a little uncertainty, and a little discomfort. The key is to be ready for this discomfort and accept it. Deal with it and use it to your advantage.

Be Accountable

Who is responsible for our health? Ultimately we are. Why then are so many people looking to blame other’s for their weight issues?

Accountability. A big, very important word, accountability. In our society of give me’s, I deserve’s, and I want’s we have lost some accountability for our actions.

America was founded on hard work. Our streets of gold were for the taking if one wanted to work hard enough. Now, I know if we look at our history from a social perspective there are many items to consider, but if we look just at the concept it is very simple. If I work hard I can do anything.

In our culture I believe we have lost direction when it comes to working hard on our fitness. The International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association posted a survey on American exercisers. It was very interesting to see that a whole demographic is still looking for a quick fix pill.

I meet many people who wonder why they cannot lose weight. “I try so hard”, they complain. Then we look at their actions. They eat large portions, have long Friday night happy hours with friends, lots of soda pop and fast food choices, and no planning for meals or workouts.

They spend their money on other items, rather than a gym membership or home workout gear. Sometimes I wonder where the rational is.

For example: If I drink a 20 oz bottle of pop each day. At approximately $1.50/pop, I could afford a gym membership, more than 6 workout videos, a small set of dumbbells, 2 yoga kits, personal training, a pair of shoes, or some workout clothing.

Hmmm…is it any wonder more than 60% of our population is overweight? Until we begin to take responsibility for our actions weight will continue to climb.