Stretch & Grow!

In almost every activity or sport, stretching has always been a typical way to warm up the body and get it ready for action. However, you do not have to be an elite athlete to reap the rewards. Learn the benefits of stretching and how to. Bonus: Brenda

In almost every activity or sport, stretching has always been a typical way to "warm up" the body and get it ready for action. However, you do not have to be an elite athlete to reap the rewards. It is my opinion that stretching, when done properly is the most effective way to fully connect your mind and body through your breath, and should be incorporated into every fitness program.

Benefits Of Stretching:

  • Reduce muscle and joint tensions to help make the body more relaxed.

  • Help's coordination and range of motion by allowing for freer movement.

  • Prevent injuries such as muscle strains, sprains, and pulls.

  • Makes strenuous activity easier by preparing the muscles for activity.

  • Develop body awareness and focus, as you become in-touch with your muscles.

  • Promote circulation by sending oxygen and blood to your muscles.

  • Speeds the healing process of injured or over trained muscles.

  • Fascial Stretching, developed by John Parrillo, can actually build muscle and make you stronger.

  • Best of all, it clears your mind and makes you feel good!

How To Stretch:

  • Hold each stretch in one position for about 30 seconds without bouncing.

  • Breath slow and deep as you stretch and hold.

  • Clear your mind and focus on the muscles being stretched, visualize them letting go and relaxing throughout the entire stretch.

  • Relax the entire body; never go past the point of serious discomfort or pain.

  • Stretch the entire body, especially the shoulders, hips, and legs daily.

  • Stretching after the body is warmed up will produce better results... be sure to stretch after every cardio and weight training session.

  • Use stretching as the "cool down" phase of your workout.

  • Stretch between sets while weight training to help the targeted muscle recover faster and grow bigger.

Having a partner assist you while you focus on letting go and breathing will produce tremendous results. Your partner has to be familiar with the stretches and your body. Communication is a must when doing partner stretching and should only be performed by a trained professional. There are many books and videos to get you started. The best way to learn the proper technique is to hire a personal fitness trainer experienced and well educated in flexibility training.

Brenda Kelly's Tips For Stretching And Flexibility!

Flexibility is hereditary. This means champions really are born. You are born with your tendons and ligaments at a set point. That being said, it is possible to improve your range of motion up to a point if you are consistent and train smart. I have seen athletes work on their splits with consistency for a year or so and get their splits when they started a foot above the ground! It can be done even if it doesn't come naturally. I am proof. My kicks went from waist level with bent knees one year to straight up over my head and straight knees with toes pointed the next year by working hard. And I was 41 years old at my last Fitness Show.

My splits come with much work and only when I am properly warmed up. I am not one of those fortunate few who can do splits on demand. My straddle splits are about one inch from being technically perfect, but I can fake them so only a pro could tell.

I used a method that is called in it's abbreviated form; PNF stretching. It is a method that fools the muscles into going farther than they really want to. You need a trainer who knows what they are doing to help you with this particular method. You end up pushing against your partner and holding for 30 seconds or so, releasing the hold and taking your stretch further and repeating this as many times as you can stand it. This will drastically improve your range of motion. Expect to be sore at first.

Another way to get more flexibility gains for your splits is to use the wall. Lay on your back with your butt against the wall and your legs up on the wall. For more intensity put light ankle weights on. You slowly open your legs in a "V" as far as they will go and just stay there for some minutes. Try to keep your knees straight and toes pointed. After the initial tightness goes away, open your legs more. Do this for 5 minutes. To get up, close legs while bending your knees rolling to one side and sit up. Try it. You will be amazed at the progress you will make.

While stretching it is recommended to hold your stretches for at least 20-30 seconds. No bouncing. Remember to breathe. It is also recommended to stretch opposing muscle groups during the same session. I highly recommend taking a specialty class at your gym geared towards stretching to learn different methods and proper technique.

During my fitness competition years, I worked hard to remain flexible so my range was very visible. When I am working on it specifically, it improves tremendously. Now as a fitness model and actress I still need to add flexibility training into my work out schedule. I stretch from head to toe at least twice a week. This is a far cry from when I was training for the routine rounds when I needed to stretch twice a day!

Popular Tools To Use For Stretching Include:

  • Rubber tension bands
  • A ballet bar
  • The floor or wall
  • A towel
  • A partner.

A light stretch should be done that include the muscles you will be using before a workout to warm and loosen joints, muscles and tendons. To work on flexibility gains wait until after your body temperature is completely warm and loosened up. A 10-15 minute cardio session will usually warm up cold muscles enough to get started, or just add your stretching routine after any physical activity.

The Benefits From Stretching!

Benefits from stretching include longer leaner lines, injury prevention, reaching flexibility goals and of course being flexible helps our joints and tendons remain pliable for everyday activities and sports. It is also key to physical therapy rehab. For me, when I tighten up I can expect my back to be stiff. If I do not have time to exercise I find that stretching helps with muscle memory. One of the surprise benefits I get is the relaxing calming effect stretching gives me.

As we age, flexibility deteriorates if we do not use it. Save yourself from needless aches and pains by making sure your body remains pliable and ready for the demands we put on ourselves daily by taking the time to stretch. You will be glad you did. It keeps us young, mobile and physically fit at any age.

Take care of yourself. It's worth it.

How Often Do You Stretch?
    Before And After Each Workout
    Before Each Workout
    After Each Workout
    Never, It's Useless

Dale Buchanan