Lots of physical activities build your muscles
and strength, but many times other parts of your body are left out. Because
stretching can be a full body workout, it can help to check any imbalance in
If your body is flexible you will be less likely to get injured.
When you work specifically on increasing your flexibility, wear comfortable
clothing that won't get in the way of your stretching. T-shirts, shorts, sweats,
and tank tops are all fine, but ditch the jeans.
Take off your shoes, and even your feet can benefit from the stretching!
You may want an exercise mat to use during seated or floor postures. You don't
have to go out and purchase one, though, just use a firm pillow or folded up
blanket. All you really need is a quiet spot where you won't be distracted. Look
for a level area large enough for you to stretch upwards as well as to the
Before beginning your stretching routine, walk around for three or four
minutes to make sure your muscles are warmed up. Don't try to go beyond your
limits—you could strain your muscles.
You don't have to work out for hours to achieve the benefits of stretching.
Practicing just ten to fifteen minutes each day can make a difference. It does
help if you wait at least two to three hours after you've eaten. So, set aside a
special time each day and relax, release, and rejuvenate!
I'm sure you've heard trainers say this about aerobic workouts, but it's
important to remember to breathe while stretching, too! It's a good idea to
start with several arm stretches over your head and deep breaths. Inhale when
you try upward and expanded movements, and exhale during downward or forward
Concentrate on each position—move slowly and with precise control until you feel
your muscles tensing and resisting (but not straining).
Please take 5-10 minutes to relax your body at the end of your stretching
routine. This will help to prevent sore muscles and is a great way to reduce
If you're feeling stiff or sore afterwards, you've overdone it! If you're just
getting into stretching, it's important to start off slowly. Your progress will
be gradual, but continuous. With time your body will become more flexible and
your muscles more supple.
About The Author:
Kirsten Hawkins is a nutrition and health expert from Nashville, TN.
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