Stretching for results
By Joni Hyde of WorkoutsForWomen.com
Research has shown that women who add flexibility exercises into their workout routines, gain an average of 20 percent more strength than those who do not stretch. Wayne Westcott, Ph.D says, "stretching muscles after contracting during weight lifting, may make them more receptive to strengthening." Other studies have shown that stretching may improve circulation to joints and may actually help decelerate joint degenerative processes.
So how can you get the most out of the time you spend stretching? Stretching at the end of your workout may be the most efficient way to produce permanent gains in flexibility since the muscles and ligament temperatures are slightly elevated. Here are some key points to remember when stretching:
- Slowly lengthen the muscle in a controlled manner to the point where you feel slight discomfort.
- Hold that position for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Do not bounce or jerk, HOLD.
Proper alignment when stretching is critical in achieving maximum benefits. To view video/audio demonstrations of stretches for 14 major muscles groups click here. Over time, try to learn how to properly perform all of the stretches in this section.
So which stretches should you do? Complete one stretch from each group at the end of each exercise session. If the last exercise performed in your workout is an abdominal exercise, start with stretches that can be performed while you are on the floor. Then transition up to a standing position and perform stretches for the rest of the body. Try new stretches each week and new ways of putting them together one after another in a pattern the flows. The total time you spend stretching should only take about 5 to 7 minutes. Not much time for the great rewards.
The really great news is that when joints are correctly moved through their full range of motion as you do during stretching, flexibility can increase by as much as 50 percent in women of ALL ages. And remember, a body that is flexible is less prone to injury and low back pain.
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Joni Hyde is a certified personal trainer specializing in women's fitness with over 13 years experience. For a complete home exercise routine under the guidance of a certified trainer, visit WorkoutsForWomen.com.