“My back aches, I feel tight and stiff.” Have you ever said this or felt this way? When I have clients tell me they feel tight, stiff or have joint pain, the first thing I ask is if they perform regular stretching exercises. I usually hear “no, I know I should.” After years of preaching stretch, stretch, stretch, I have to remind myself constantly to take time and schedule a few minutes to stretch after each workout or I will pay for it later. We have a short amount of time to exercise and want to use it burn a few extra calories or think there is not enough time to fit in stretching with all we have to do. However, many times, when our back goes out or we suffer from low back pain, it is not due to one specific injury, but because we have not taken the time to work on our flexibility and the constant wear and tear on our muscles. Stiffness and back pain can be caused by a lack of flexibility. Regular stretching makes you feel better by reducing muscles soreness, low back pain and stress, and assist your body to move easily and prevent injury. Our flexibility does decrease with age, but by incorporating a regular stretching program, you can feel younger and more relaxed with less aches and pains.
Stretching exercises can be done at different times, but must be done when your muscles are warm. After a work out of any kind, it is a without a doubt the most important time to relieve tension in your working muscles. At the end of the day, especially if you have sat at a desk all day, a hot shower or warm bath is a great way to warm up and relax the muscles for a few stretching exercises before bed.
Here a few guidelines to follow with your stretching:
- Before beginning, make sure muscles are warm
- Take a deep breath in and exhale as you move toward the stretch
- Take the stretch to your point of tension and not any further – Do not force it!
- Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds
- Repeat 2-3 times for each muscle stretched.
Remember you can take quick breaks throughout the day when you feel a little tension or need a break. My 2 year old has learned it is kind of fun to jump back and forth over mommy’s leg when she is stretching. He has even been my cheerleader by saying, “stretch mommy stretch.” It can be done anywhere. No special place, no special equipment.
To learn more about having a personal fitness plan and how to be fit for life, call me for a free consultation as your Wellness Coach at 409-550-7606 or email me at email@example.com.