To Your Health
September, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 09)
Preparation: Lie on a ball with your head and neck supported and both feet straight ahead. Lift hips up until they are in line with knees and shoulders.
Movement: Draw belly button inward. Maintaining core control, slowly rotate trunk to each side. Perform 10 repetitions to each side.
Preparation: Stand in proper alignment with hands behind head.
Movement: Draw belly button inward and lower to a 3/4 squat position (controlled); do not let the knees go forward or cave inward. Extend hips, knees and ankles to return to start position. Raise onto toes and then return to start position. Perform 10 repetitions of the entire move, start to finish.
Well, there you have it in a nutshell: how to start stretching today and take your first steps down the path to a more flexible, healthier you. These stretches should get you started, but there are a lot more you can add to your flexibility routine as you progress. Which muscles are tight will determine what stretches you should be doing. The benefits of stretching are important, so make sure it's a regular part of your fitness program. Talk to your doctor for more information.
Safe Stretching: Four Things Not to Do
There are no disadvantages to stretching - unless, of course, you do them improperly, which is actually easy to do if you don't know what you're doing. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before starting any stretching program:
DON'T bounce when stretching; hold your position for the specified time.
DON'T stretch cold muscles; always do some type of warm-up for at least five minutes: jogging in place, walking on a treadmill, light jump rope, etc.
DON'T overstretch. There should be a little discomfort, especially if you're not used to stretching, but it should not be painful.
DON'T stretch a muscle improperly. If you are not sure of the proper stretch or how to perform it, get some assistance from a professional.
Chelsea Cooper, MPA, CPT, is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer, performance enhancement specialist, and rehab and exercise specialist. To learn more, visit www.trainwithchelsea.com.