How to Stretch Properly

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  • 5/8/11
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  • How to Stretch Properly
    Stretching exercises performed before workouts increase blood flow to muscles, raise body temperature, improve flexibility, increase range of motion in joints and decrease the likelihood of injury. Stretching exercises should be performed for at least 5 minutes. They should be done smoothly with no bouncing or jerking, which might cause muscle pull.

    1. Before beginning stretching exercises, warm up for several minutes by running in place or walking. Never stretch cool muscles, since injury may result.

    2. The hamstring stretch is one of the most important stretching exercises. The hamstring is located in the back of the upper leg. Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front. Slowly slide your hands down your legs until you feel mildly uncomfortable. Hold for 10 seconds, and return to an upright position. Repeat three times.

    3. The quadriceps muscles run along the front of the thigh. Stretching these muscles helps to reduce stress on the knees. Hold a chair back for balance. With feet shoulder-width apart, lift the right foot to the buttock. Point your knee to the floor, and avoid arching your back. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat with the left leg.

    4. Shoulder stretches help prevent rotator cuff problems. Bring the right arm across the body, and hold it below the elbow with the left arm. Maintain for 30 seconds. Repeat with your left arm.

    5. Don’t overlook the triceps. Place the right hand on the upper back, between the shoulder blades. Grasp the elbow with the left hand. Pull the elbow toward the head, and hold for 30 seconds.

    6. The standing torso stretch helps to relieve pressure on the spine. Stand with feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Place the right hand on the right hip, and raise the left hand over the head. Bend the torso until you feel slight tension on the left side. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

    7. Necks rolls help reduce stress at any time. Sit upright in a chair with feet flat on the floor. Breathe deeply, and let your head fall forward as you exhale. Inhale as you roll your head to one shoulder, and breathe deeply several times while holding your ear close to your shoulder. Roll your head back to the center, exhaling as you do so. Inhale as you roll your head to the opposite shoulder. Perform five repetitions.

    8. Repeat these stretching exercises after your workout. Stretching after exercise will help to remove lactic acid and reduce the likelihood of muscle soreness. 

    1.  How do you properly stretch?
    Image Credit: Tokyosucks 
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