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Get your ‘stretch on’

Too many people do not know how important flexibility is.

The American College of Sports medicine (ACSM) recommends to do flexibility exercises at least two or three days per week to improve range of motion (ROM). Each stretch should be held for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat them so that each muscle is stretched for at least 60 seconds (2 x30 or 4×15 or 6×10 seconds) you should stretch to the point of discomfort not pain.

So why is stretching so important? Stretching your muscles keeps them flexible, healthy and strong. To maintain a good ROM of the joints you have to include flexibility training. As most of you have found out personally, when you don’t, your muscles become short and tight. It can affect your daily living and when exercising with tight and short muscles your chance of injury increases.

So where to start? When exercising the muscles at least stretch the muscles you have worked out. If you don’t like to stretch on your own, a yoga class might be the key for you. It focusses on flexibility, balance and strength. The instructor will guide you through a routine which concentrates on the total body and of course mind and spirit. If you like to start to stretch on your own the following stretches are easy enough and very effective.

Before a stretch routine always make sure your muscles are warmed up. Again hold your stretch for 10 to 30 seconds making it 60 seconds total.

Make sure you do each side.

*Stand tall- turn head towards your right- hold back to middle, then left. Neck flexibility

*Same, now keep shoulders where they are and bring ear slowly toward shoulder not touch. Side neck and trapezius flexibility

*Same, reach with left arm tall (next to ear) and over towards the right side. Shoulder and side flexibility

*Same, bend the arm behind the head. Support with other arm. Triceps flexibility

*Face a wall, hands on wall, put one foot back push heel on the floor. Calf flexibility

*Same, now push your hip forward, calf comes off the floor (like Michael Jackson) Hip flexor flexibility

*Sit on chair or on floor, one leg is extended one bend with bottom foot to inside straight leg or bend while seated. Reach towards your straight leg, pull toes towards you. Hamstring calf flexibility.

*Stand tall, hold on for balance bend other leg and grab ankle (use strap or towel if you can’t hold ankle). Knees are almost on same level, now push hip forward, quadriceps (front upper leg) flexibility.

*Stand tall, now reach up with both arms as tall as you can. It lengthens everything and feels so good!

Any muscle that feels tight, stretch it! Go to discomfort, hold the stretch long enough and be determined. You too can get your flexibility back or become flexible.

Ester Hoeben Marsh Health & Fitness Director JF Hurley family YMCA





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