Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stretchin' It Out

The last couple weeks I've given you reason why you want to lift heavy weights, a weight workout and a cardio workout.  That leaves stretching for this week.

What are the benefits of being flexible?  And no, I'm not talking about being able to do the splits.

Or fold yourself in half to sleep.

I'm talking about being flexible enough for your joints to move through their entire range of movement without causing pain or discomfort.  Or being flexible enough to decrease your risk of injury.

How do you do that?

There's a couple different ways to improve your flexibility.  First is a dynamic warm up before you workout followed by easy stretching after your workout.  The other way is to take a yoga or pilates class.  I'm going to show you a dynamic warm-up and some after exercise stretches.  

A dynamic warm-up coordinates all of your moving parts—muscles, ligaments, and joints—by challenging your flexibility, mobility, strength and stability all at once.

You'll want to perform each exercise for 15-30 yrds.  

High Knee Walk
As you step forward, grasp just below the knee on the opposite legs and pull the knee towards the chest. Extend the stepping leg, and rise on the toes. Keep the chest high, don’t lean back.
 High Knee Run
Start by running in place, keeping the knees high. Slowly progress forward. Focus on landing on the ball of the foot.  Do not lean back or round the shoulders. Pump the arms.
 Butt Kicks
Quickly flex the knee bringing the heel of the foot towards the buttocks. Pump the arms in sync with the legs.
Straight-leg Walk
March with straight legs, and reach for toes with the opposite hand. Keep the chest high, don’t lean back. Do not kick the leg up, actively raise it until you feel tension in the hamstrings.
Backward Run
Literally run backwards. Take large steps, reaching as far as possible with the lead leg. Lean forward at the hips, keep the eyes looking forward.
Backward and forward lunge walks
Take one giant step forward; drop down into the lunge position, and then using the forward leg rise out of the lunge position and step forward with the opposite leg.  For the backward lunge, do the same except you are walking backwards.
Jumping Jack
Stand upright with the hands by your side. Jump and raise your arms up from your side overhead and land with feet wider than shoulder width apart. Jump and return to the start position. Repeat for 15 repetitions.
 Ski Jack
Stand upright with the hands by your side. Jump and move arms and legs in a cross-country ski motion. Repeat for 15 repetitions.

Once your warm- up is complete, you are ready for your workout.  

When you're finished with your workout, you'll want to do so static stretching.  These include hamstring stretches, quad stretches, tricep stretches...  The most important thing to remember when doing static stretches is DO NOT BOUNCE!  You want to hold each stretch at the point that you feel the stretch without injuring yourself for about 15-30 seconds.  Move slowly through each stretch, stopping when it hurts.

There you have it.  An easy stretching routine for before and after your workout =)

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