Top 3 Ways to Stretch For Better
Health & Fitness
The importance of stretching cannot be over emphasized.
Stretching improves flexibility of muscles and connective tissue. It helps joints as well. Stretching is also a prime and important element to avoid injuries. The purpose of stretching is to achieve your individual range-of-motion for your skeletal muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. It is also good for your heart muscle.
Yoga and Pilates are based on stretching groups of muscles and providing them with the necessary oxygen and red blood cells. Your workout can be aerobics, running, walking, bike riding or swimming. You can play tennis, golf, volleyball, basketball or any other sport after carefully stretching muscles.
Saw Mill Club in Mount Kisco offers 200 group exercise classes each week including kickboxing, spinning, aerobics and Zumba. All of the classes start with a warm-up that includes extensive stretching.
Before a workout
The warm-up is actually raising your core body temperature a couple of degrees, according to the MIT How to Stretch program on preparing for sports. A general warm-up should start with joint rotations starting with fingers, wrist, elbows and shoulders moving on to neck, trunk, waist and hips. Then move down to knees, ankles and toes. The rotations should be slow and comfortable, never forced.
Static or passive stretching is next. Hold a position such as standing mountain in Yoga to carefully stretch your back. You may want to do the runner’s leg stretch. Move slowly to the next positions to work the muscles you will be using primarily in your workout or game. Slow, fluid movements should be used for all stretching. The amount of time you spend stretching depends on your personal needs.
Yoga classes start with easy, basic stretches and move on to more complex postures. Students are always instructed to set their own pace.
The workout or game
Dynamic stretching is the recommended way of working into the reach or speed of movement you want. This may involve repetitions of a stretching movement. This is the usual procedure for low-impact aerobic exercise, Pilates, dancing and some martial-arts classes. Dancers often do their stretches holding on to a bar. Competitive swimmers do some stretches on deck before moving into the water. Then they stretch in the water, swim laps slowly and eventually work into their competition times. This is a procedure during practice sessions and before races.
Swimming is a good stretching exercise. A runner does not hit the track without a complete joint and muscle-stretching warm-up routine. Ballistic stretching is a form of using jerking movements that work muscles too hard. This might cause injuries. Once muscles reach their stretch limits, they do not work at full capacity without a substantial rest period.
The weight machines at Saw Mill Club require fluid, continuous movement, not jerking motion, to stretch and contract various muscle groups.
Contact Fitness Director Billy Goda for more information:
Phone: (914) 733-4029