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Five guidelines to follow when stretching

shutterstock_171467156“So, how much do you bench?”
“What’s your mile time?”
“How far can you get on the sit-and-reach?”

One of those doesn’t sound so familiar. Flexibility is something that is often forgotten by many. This is unfortunate because maintaining, or even increasing our flexibility, is something that greatly benefits our body in the long run.

As we age our body’s ability to go through its full range of motion naturally decreases. This is due to the fact that many of our daily activities cause our muscles to be in shortened positions without us even realizing it. For example, sitting at our computers often causes the front muscles of our chest to become tight and the muscles of our backs to lengthen. Sitting at a desk over-activates the hip flexor muscles. This causes the pelvis to become rotated, which can lead to several other problems. All of these imbalances can lead to aches, pains and additional injuries down the road.

What we do on a daily basis can put our bodies into poor and imbalanced positions, so it becomes increasingly important that flexibility exercises become part of our daily routine. Stretching allows us to maintain the body’s full range of motion and can correct any inequalities in muscle length.

With that in mind, here are the five guidelines you should follow when you are performing stretching exercises:

  • You should perform at least two sets of each stretch.
  • All stretches should be held for 30 seconds.
  • Go to a level that is comfortable. Stretching should not be a painful experience.
  • Don’t hold your breath while you stretch. Passing out isn’t encouraged while stretching!
  • Be sure to perform stretches on both sides of the body (where it is possible).

By following these five guidelines you’ll get the full benefit of your stretches, and you may even notice minimized aches and pains from your daily activities. Soon enough, you’ll be bragging about your sit-and-reach abilities to everyone at the gym!

About Evan Schmidt, LAT

Evan Schmidt, LAT, provides athletic training services for Affinity Health System with outreach athletic training to Winneconne High School. He received his degree from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in athletic training and a minor in strength and conditioning. Evan is also involved in the Running Assessment and Clinical Evaluation (RACE) program.

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