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The Power of Stretching

When it comes to stretching our muscles we can all use a little encouragement to do it more often and how to do it. Lets take a closer look at stretching details: Two Types of Stretches The two main types of stretches are static stretches and dynamic stretches Static stretches are passive stretching techniques, meaning the part of the body being stretched stays in one position while you continuously hold the stretch position. Static stretches are what we do at WellBound to end of every exercise class. Dynamic stretches are active stretches where the part of the body being stretched is moving while the associated joint is going through its range of motion. Examples of dynamic stretches are our warm up and cool down moves in then beginning and ending of exercise classes.

Benefits of Stretching: Improved mobility, posture, and balance: Regular stretching helps maintain joint mobility, the more flexible you are the better your movement will be. When the body can move properly joints also stay in better alignment leading to more proper posture. When using proper posture balance is easier for the body to maintain. So you can see, not stretching is the tip of a slippery slope for affecting more than just your muscles. Healthy joints, pain management, possible reduction of low back pain: Stretching increases joint flexibility and function, and decreases periodic joint pain, especially in arthritic joints. Having healthy, strong, well stretched muscles in the upper legs, hips, and core reduces stress on the back and can aid in alleviating low back pain. Muscle relaxation and stress relief: Too much sitting, repetitive motions, and other body stressors can lead to stiffness and and knotted muscles. Gentle stretching increases blood flow to the tight muscles, decreases stress hormones, and relaxes areas of tension in the body. How to go about stretching: How to: Static stretches have less risk of associated injury and are recommended most for people exercising on their own without the guidance of an instructor or trainer so these may be the best stretches to start with. How often: the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 2-3 days/week minimum of for stretching sessions. However, stretching should be done after every exercise session and whenever your muscles are feeling stiff. Stretching when the muscles are warm from exercise is the best time. How much: A stretch should be held at the point of feeling some tightness in the muscle, it may feel slightly uncomfortable but shouldn’t cause unbearable pain. How long: Each major muscle group should be stretched 2-4 times for 10-30 seconds each time. Additional Resources Want to learn more about stretching? Don’t want to stretch alone? WellBound offers one on one stretch sessions. These 30 minute sessions are all about you and your stretching needs. We will use assisted stretches for every major muscle group. This means we do the stretches for you while you just have to lay back and relax! We may even show you a few stretches to do on your own to help with your more troubled areas. For more information call WellBound at 402-506-4333. Now stand up from that computer and stretch! References: Hopson, Janet L., et al. Get Fit, Stay Well! 2nd ed., Benjamin Cummings, 2012. Powers, Scott K., and Edward T. Howley. Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance. 8th ed., McGraw-Hill, 2012.

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