To Your Health
June, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 06)
Stretching of muscles, tendons and joints is important. Many claim it helps prevent injury or re-injury.
Some claim there is no conclusive proof of this; however, I am of the opinion that it helps and certainly cannot hurt if performed correctly. Stretching can be performed prior to warming up, after warming up or during cooldown. It can also be performed independently of any exercise session. I prefer stretching after
Stretching can also be general or specific. General is for full-body benefit, while specific is for the body regions used in the specific activity or sport. Regardless of the type of stretching employed, there are a few rules that should always be followed to obtain maximum benefit:
- Perform each stretch slowly without bouncing or jerking movements.
- Perform each stretch 3-5 times.
- Hold each stretch 10-20 seconds before releasing.
- The time required to stretch is dependent upon the number of stretching exercises you are instructed to perform.
- Stretch to the point at which a pulling sensation is experienced. Do not push the stretch to the point that burning, tearing or painful sensations are felt.
- Perform only the stretches you are instructed to perform.
- If stretching is the only activity recommended, perform the stretches at least three times per week.
- Do not move on to sport- or activity-specific stretches until instructed to do so.
- If you are unsure of any of the instructions provided, ask your doctor before proceeding.
Cooling down is obviously the opposite of warming up. Slowing activity levels down to the intensity of the warm-up period provides several benefits. Heart rate and blood pressure will slowly return to normal. Continued muscle contraction enhances venous return of blood to the heart. These factors help prevent light-headedness and dizziness after exercise.
Continued circulation as activity decreases also helps remove lactic acid that accumulated during exercise. The body can disperse heat generated during the exercise session and respiration can return to normal.
A working knowledge of warming up, stretching and cooling down is essential before proceeding to aerobic and/or resistance exercises.
2. Aerobic Exercise
Four steps in particular are necessary when formulating a plan for aerobic exercise for the heart and lungs. Following these steps in order will assure that all bases are covered with each care plan.
The type of aerobic exercise employed is the mode of exercise. Walking, running, riding a stationary or road bike, elliptical trainer, or stair-step machine, swimming, and performing many other exercises are possibilities. The choice of which to use is based on what equipment is available, the expense involved, your physical condition and commitment to participation. Again, work closely with your doctor during this phase of care.