Stretch Your Way Into the New Year

Stretch Your Way Into the New Year

By: LAUREN SALE

Do you ever get that rush when you’re excited to work out? You want nothing more than to sweat out the day’s frustrations. You’re looking forward to feeling refreshed and energetic after you complete an exercise session. Then, as you’re about to begin, you realize you did not stretch. You begin to question: Do I really need to stretch? Is it worth it? What is the point?


Stretching pre-workout may seem to put a damper on the exercise experience, but it is absolutely worth it. The most important benefit of stretching is that it prevents injuries. Stretching warms up muscles, which is especially important during the winter. Stretching can also prevent post-workout muscle soreness. The Mayo Clinic reports that stretching can help improve flexibility, and better flexibility may improve your performance in physical activities or decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints move through their full range of motion. Stretching allows your body to function at its full potential.

Stretching correctly involves following a few basic rules. One of the main rules is to avoid bouncing. Bouncing instead of holding your stretch can tear or pull a muscle. Don’t go for the burn. It may be tempting to extend your stretch to the limit, but this can create problems. If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. Finally, keep up with it! It works if you are consistent. Stretching once in a blue moon will not produce very many benefits. Like any workout, if you keep with it you will get better and see results.

“I hate doing it but I force myself to stretch out before I work out at the gym,” says Liz Sander, a student who does several types of martial arts and runs. “If I don’t do it, I feel a lot of tension, especially if I’m running.”

Try the ultimate relaxation stretch before bedtime. Lie down on the ground and stretch your arms overheard and lengthen your legs. Let your feet fall open to a comfortable position. After a few minutes in this position, bring your arms down to your sides and let your palms face up toward the ceiling. Close your eyes and feel your entire body stretch and relax. Focus on keeping your mind clear. This is an excellent stretch to incorporate into your daily routine. Your mind and body will reap the benefits!

Set a goal for the new year to remind yourself to always stretch before and after your work out. It will enhance your exercise performance, improve your flexibility and give you a fresh start to 2012.

Learn how to stretch to prevent injuries.
Are you a runner? Learn some beneficial stretching techniques to improve your performance.

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