Today our coffee club was in the middle of discussing the weather and wishing for spring when out of the blue Uncle Bud ask, “Does anyone know why it is important to stretch?” We knew where he was headed because he is so into his exercise program and wants us to enjoy the benefits of exercising. But one of the members just had to have a little fun and started teasing Uncle Bud about “stretching the truth”. Another member reminded him we needed to “stretch the dollar”. When Paul started showing us how far he could “stretch a rubber band” everyone but Uncle Bud laughed. He wanted to but has a hard time laughing at anyone’s jokes when he has something serious on his heart. We all wish we were as serious about our exercise programs as he is and that is why we settled down and listened to what he had to say. It is amazing how he seems to always be right.
So he begins: Do you want to feel really great? Stretch. No matter your age or fitness stage you need to stretch before you exercise. Stretching increases flexibility. Good flexibility helps increase circulation, protect against injury, improve balance, and help overcome stiffness. Many people neglect to stretch because they do not realize how important it is to the exercise program.
At this point Uncle Bud actually wanted to take us outside and show us what he called the head to toe classic stretch routine. This was one of the few times he did not get his way. Not only were they dressed for work it was cold outside. He could not hide his disappointment but accepted their excuses and jumped right back into the lecture routine.
There are several dos and don’ts that are important to know before you do stretches:
Warm up – Never stretch cold muscles. You can warm up by walking, biking, or doing any other light movements before stretching. This helps prevent strains.
Breathe – To help you relax and stretch more effectively, you need to breathe deeply throughout your routine. Do so by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Go slow – Hold each stretch 30 seconds to allow the muscle to relax completely. Do not make quick movements or force yourself into a position. You want to increase your flexibility not cause an injury.
No bouncing – Bouncing can cause small fiber tears and this can cause scar tissue. Scar tissue tightens the muscle causing you to be less flexible and may cause pain.
Know your comfort zone – The stretches you do should challenge your muscles but not
Use balance – Each muscle group needs to be given equal time.
Daily dose – To maintain your flexibility stretch your muscles daily. It is important to stretch after you exercise but it is also important to do a brief warm-up and stretching routine on the days you don’t exercise.
It was time to go and we were glad. Not because we do not enjoy Uncle Bud’s lectures but we knew he was about to suggest again that we move outside and let him show us a few of the stretches he wanted us to do every day. Yes, the ole fellow wants us to be flexible but bless his heart he is not “flexible”.Most of us will add the stretching to our routine this week because it is easier to do so than to tell Uncle Bud we did not.