5 Common Stretching Mistakes We Make

Stretch blog pic 2When you are motivated, it is easy to want to rush right into something. This is true in life as well as in exercising. But skipping the stretch before you work out can not only have you in pain later, but also seriously injure your muscles. Stretching your muscles before you get started also improves your performance and endurance while you work out. In order to get the most out of your workout, you should avoid these five common stretching mistakes.

1. Skipping stretches all together. Many consider a warm up enough and skip stretching all together. But a warm up is only part of getting ready to stretch. Often times, people have a hard time fitting their workout into their schedule and don’t want to waste any of that time doing stretches. But stretches increase blood flow and flexibility that actually increase the benefits of your workout.

2. Over-stretching and ignoring pain. You should be listening to your body, not ignoring pain. While stretching and exercise should push us outside our comfort zone, real pain is your body telling you that you are doing something wrong. It can also lead to you being in pain for days to come that causes you to miss future workouts. Over-aggressive, forceful, and abrupt stretches all defeat the purpose of stretching. Ease into stretches slowly and with control to gain the benefits.

3. Stretching the wrong muscles or isolated muscles. Just stretching an isolated set of muscles, such as your abs or hamstrings does not give you a full stretch. It is important to stretch your whole body, not just isolated parts. It’s also important to understand stretching, as you may think you are stretching one, but it’s another. It’s best to either consult with an expert or do some research to find the right stretches for your goals. Completing a balanced, focused stretching routine that gives you the benefits you are looking for is important.

4. Rushing through the stretches. Many treat stretching like a race, rushing through to the end of them so they can say they did them. However, the essential part of stretching is to ease into it and hold it for the full count to obtain the stretch. Make sure that you get the full stretch, with each repetition try to go a little bit further, but stop before you over-stretch. For static stretches, each one should be held for 20 seconds or more. Slow down and give your body time to adjust to the stretch each time.

5. Just breath. Not just in stretching, but in many exercises, one of the biggest things people forget to do is breath. As you stretch, don’t hold your breath. Instead, remember to calmly breath in and out, releasing tension as you breath out. Holding your breath actually causes your muscles to tighten and resist. While slow, deep breathes encourage relaxation and releasing of tension. This adds to the overall benefit of stretching.

With today’s hectic world, stress and tension are common. Taking a break and stretching at least twice during your day and before workouts can greatly reduce your stress levels and improve your health. Stretching should be considered a bonus rather than a chore that needs to be done. The feeling of being looser and more relaxed can benefit not only your workouts, but your life.

Communication is Key with Your Personal Trainer

PT blog pic 2If you are serious about getting started in an exercise program after years of inactivity, or if you are in pretty good shape but would like to take your exercise routine to a higher level, consider working with a personal trainer. The benefits of working with a personal trainer are numerous:

  • Personalized workouts with feedback along the way
  • Education and experience that ensures safe, injury-free workouts
  • Help to stay motivated and keep you accountable to your fitness goals
  • Encouragement to go farther, push harder than you would by yourself
  • One-on-one attention that makes it easier to achieve your goals

Communication is key to working with a personal trainer. The topics that are especially important to discuss with your personal trainer are: fitness goals, exercise and health history, lifestyle and nutrition, and attitude.

Fitness Goals

In order to develop an exercise program just for you, your personal trainer must know what your goals are. Do you want to lose weight and reduce body fat? Do you want to add muscle mass? Are you trying to strengthen an area of the body that has suffered an injury? Are you preparing to compete in some sport?  Do you just want to look better and feel better?

Exercise History and General Health

One of the best benefits of working with a personal trainer is developing a program that will meet your needs safely and without fear of injury. Your personal trainer will need to know about any injuries or medical problems you may be dealing with. He or she will also need to know how much you have exercised in the past and what your level of physical fitness is at the moment.

Lifestyle and Nutrition

How active are you during your normal daily routine? Your personal trainer will want to know if you sit at a desk all day or if your job keeps you on the go for nine hours with little chance to take a break. Do you eat breakfast every day? What is your typical meal like? Your personal trainer will want to know about the foods that you like and dislike because nutrition is an important part of achieving a healthier lifestyle and will be discussed as part of your exercise program.

Attitude

How do you feel about exercise? Do you look forward to your time at the gym every week, or does it take all your will power to force yourself to go? Another benefit of working with a personal trainer is having someone to help boost your motivation. Whether your fitness goals are small or Olympic in proportion, a personal trainer can help you maintain the right attitude toward achieving them.

There will be many benefits to working with a certified personal trainer at a level that is right for you. You will know that your workout has been designed with your safety and fitness goals in mind. You will receive feedback and support as you progress. You will have the one-on-one attention that could take you farther than you would go by yourself. As with any worthwhile endeavor, communication is the key to success. Your personal trainer must start with basic information about your goals, health, and lifestyle. He or she will then be your best source of information about any changes you could make to your daily routine, nutrition, or attitude toward physical activity in order to achieve your goals. Finally, good communication ensures that your personal trainer is also your best cheerleader as you work to achieve the level of physical fitness that you desire.

5 Myths About Gluten Free

Nutrition Blog Photo 1While gluten-free diets may seem to be the craze right now, there are some myths out there that you will want to look into before deciding whether or not to go ‘G Free’ as they say.

  • First, note that there is a great deal of research behind tomes such as ‘Wheat Belly’ and ‘Grain Brain’.  Both Doctors William Davis and David Perlmutter have done extensive research into just what grains do to both the brain and the body.  However, they are not simply advocating that you start eating everything labeled ‘gluten free’, and for good reason.
  • This leads to the second myth, that anything labeled ‘gluten free’ is good for you.  Not true, not true at all, actually. If you are shopping the perimeter of the store, and choosing vegetables, fruits, meats, and dairy products, then yes, these are excellent grain-free options. However, if you are simply perusing the rest of the store and adding ‘gluten-free’ candy, cakes, chips and other processed foods to your cart, then you are missing the point.

These gluten-free processed foods have added salt, sugar and other chemicals to make them look and taste like the original product. Adding sugar to your diet in place of grains is simply replacing one ‘bad’ item with another.

  • The third myth is that this type of eating is healthier. Based upon the previous statements,  you can see that if you are adding more processed, sugar-laden items to your diet, it is definitely not healthier.
  • Another myth is that by eating gluten-free, you will lose weight. If you are replacing grains by eating more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy items and healthy fats, you probably will.  However, if you are replacing those grains with sugary, processed foods, you will not lose the weight, and you might even gain some!
  • Finally, the fifth myth that you should look into is that ‘everyone’ these days is allergic to gluten. What the studies are showing today is that many people have a gluten sensitivity, but not a full blown allergy. Gluten sensitivity and Celiac’s Disease and completely different things. If you do believe that you have a gluten allergy, you should see a doctor.

The most important thing to take away from the recent ‘gluten-free’ craze is that you should be eating healthier.  Shop the perimeter of the store.  Eat more vegetables and fruits.  Choose lean meats and low-fat dairy.  Add healthy, natural nut butters and heart healthy oils to your cart.

Steer clear of processed, sugary foods, as well as trans fats and you will begin to notice a difference in your body in no time!

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