Okay, okay, I know
this is a pretty dull subject and one that nobody
likes to think about, but stretching is important.
Stretching on a regular basis enables you to be more
flexible and greatly decreases your chances of sustaining
a muscle / joint injury or developing low-back pain.
If you enjoy exercise, there's nothing worse than
being sidelined with an injury.
For these reasons alone, it's worth
spending a few minutes stretching on a regular basis.
I would like to discuss two factors that are very
important and often misunderstood.
1. NEVER stretch a cold muscle
before exercise. I like to use the analogy of a rubber
band that's been in the freezer. Your muscle, like
that rubber band, will tend to tear if stretched when
it's cold. However, when they are warm and supple,
they stretch much more easily and are much less likely
When you stretch cold muscles,
you are much more likely to cause muscle strains and
other injuries. Always do your stretching after your
aerobic exercise session or after you have been exercising
for at least ten minutes to give your muscles time
to warm up and become more supple. NEVER stretch before
you exercise. You are much more likely to injure yourself
when you do.
Stretching is not a "warm-up"
for your aerobic exercise. Your warm-up should be
a very low intensity version of the exercise that
you're doing. Then, you stretch your muscles after
they are warm.
2. NEVER "bounce" while
stretching. This is another way to increase your chances
of developing an injury. Your stretching should be
a very slow, fluid movement to gradually stretch the
muscle until you're feeling a slight stretch. Then,
hold it there for about fifteen seconds and just allow
the muscle to gently stretch. NO bouncy, jerky movements.
If you stretch on a regular basis,
you'll reverse the natural loss in flexibility that
occurs over time and you'll also be much less prone
to nagging, and sometimes serious injuries, including