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of world class, Olympic, and professional athletes are rapidly
discovering, the practice of regular stretching can be a crucial
factor in achieving goals related to peak athletic performance.
Fortunately, you don't have to be a Tiger Woods or Ironman
competitor to reap the long-term health benefits of various types of
stretching has gained considerable popularity in the past few years,
various forms of stretching have been around for thousands of years,
and are an integral component of ancient Eastern disciplines such as
Tai Chi, Qigong, and Yoga. Recently, practitioners of Pilates and
similar methods are discovering the awesome benefits of stretching
and strengthening exercises in their daily lives, as well.
basically two different ways to stretch the joints and muscles of
the body; by using either passive range of motion or active range of
motion. Active stretching involves the participant actively
stretching their joints and muscles on their own whereas passive,
assisted stretching techniques involve moving the joints through
their normal ranges of motion with assistance from another person.
and active stretching not only elongate the muscles and improve
posture, but increase circulatory flow, and decrease muscle spasm,
while increasing normal range of motion in the joints. These
benefits can be of particular interest to those suffering from
stiffness in the joints due to conditions such as osteoarthritis
(the degenerative, wear and tear type of arthritis).
Combining strength training with
stretching increases the odds that your joints will not only be
flexible but also strong and stable. Strengthening specific muscles
and muscle groups with the use of resistance (such as that involved
in weight training) helps provide stability and support to all of
the major joints of the body.
It is important to remember that
improper stretching and insufficient time spent warming up before
exercise can result in serious soft tissue damage, involving
muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Inadequate stretching can result
in minute tears or ruptures of individual muscle fibers, which are
not always immediately noticeable. Once the soft tissue is torn, it
loses some of its elasticity, and becomes a weak spot that is prone
to future injury.
You should always warm up prior
to exercise, and cool down afterward in order to prevent soft tissue
injury. Stretches should be done slowly and gently, taken to a
comfortable position, and held steadily. Your body is constantly
giving you warning signs and internal feedback that you should pay
attention to when deciding how far to stretch a joint or how long to
hold a stretch. It is crucial that you breathe deeply while
stretching in order to gain optimal cardiovascular and respiratory
personally witnessed the considerable difference that stretching has
made in my own health and that of the patients that I have treated
over the years. If you are feeling stiff and tired, you owe it to
yourself to take a few minutes each day to counteract the negative
effects of gravity and stress by stretching your magnificent body.
You might be surprised by how much more energized, strong and
healthy you feel.
---- Author: Dr. Suzanne Osborne