Before exercise, it’s important to warm-up and stretch to get the most out of the workout. Stretching helps you focus, loosens up the body and raises the body temperature which is a signal that the body is ready for physical activity. There are also a number of precautionary measures and tips to serve as guidelines when working out. Here are 10 of them.
1. To increase your flexibility and to avoid injuries, stretch before and after the workout. Almost everyone knows that stretching before workout prevents injuries during the exercises, but a smaller number of people know that stretching after the workout, when muscles are still warm, can increase flexibility.
2. Hold your stretching position for up to 60 seconds to increase flexibility. While holding your position for 20 seconds is enough for warm ups, holding each position for up to 60 seconds will develop the body’s flexibility.
3. Do not go into a stretching position then immediately return to the relaxed position, and do it repeatedly. This is more appropriately termed as bouncing while in a position. When stretching, hold that position for several seconds, and then slowly relax. You may do this exercise repeatedly this way. Bouncing or forcing yourself into a position during stretching can strain or tweak muscles.
4. Work slowly in small movements instead of immediately proceeding to doing the hardest exercise or position.
5. Make sure that you have stretched or warmed up all muscle groups. For some people, even if they have strong bodies, they tend to neglect the neck when working out of stretching. Stretching the neck muscles can be as simple as placing the palm of one’s hand against the front of the head and pushing it. Then, do the same to the sides and the back of the head.
6. Stretch regularly to continually increase your range of movement and your level of flexibility and strength.
7. Workout considering only your capabilities and not of others. Do not force yourself to do exercises that you are not yet capable of just because there are people who can do it. Increase your limits slowly. Listen to your body.
8. Learn to rest. Rest in between sets to make sure that the body has enough time to recover. Also, it is advisable that you don’t work the same muscle groups consecutively for two days. The muscles grow during the period when you rest and not when you are working out. Definitely stretch those muscles on your off days – it will speed up recovery and it will feel great!
9. Do aerobic exercises to strengthen your heart. Aerobic exercises are those physical activities that use oxygen for fuel. This includes cardiovascular exercises such as skipping rope, running or swimming. Be sure to stretch for a few minutes before cardio.
10. Music may help you when you want to train for longer periods or to increase your intensity. You can use mp3 players, CD players or your smart phone for this. Relaxing music during stretching is a great way to finish up the workout.
Apart from preventing injuries and increasing one’s flexibility, stretching is good not only for the body but also for easing stress. Let your mind wander, visualize a calm, stress free place when stretching. You’ll learn to really enjoy and look forward to this underutilized activity.
So there you have it, 10 stretching tips for fitness beginners.