Flexibility, probably the most overlooked aspect of fitness, is also the easiest to acheive. By including a regular program of stretching - even in as little as 10 minutes a day - anyone can achieve a "reasonable" amount of flexibility.
Why not take the time to stretch?
- Reduce overall stiffness and muscle pain caused by inactivity or staying in one position for too long - like sitting at your desk or in a plane.
- Improve posture and overall feeling of well being.
- Improve results from strength training.
- Reduce injuries from physical activities.
- When done right, it feels good!
How and When to Stretch - General Guidelines
Stretching, as the word implies, involves lengthening a muscle beyond its normal "resting" state. This should be done only after you have warmed the muscle up and gotten the "blood flowing" to it. Consider a 5-10 minute moderate warmup prior to stretching.
Stretching is a non-competitive activity: your only goal should be to have a "good" stretch. The general guidelines follow:
- Use the correct form - follow the description and picture as closely as possible.
- Enter the stretching motion slowly and in control - never bounce, overextend, or induce "bad" pain. You may have some minor discomfort - that's OK.
- Once you reach your maximum stretch with the proper form, hold it for a count of 10, then slowly release. Repeat each stretch three times.