When your muscles and joints can move easily through the greatest range of motion, you will enjoy agility and movement in all your activities!
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that stretching involve all the major muscles and tendon groups. It is also recommended that stretching and flexibility training be done two to three days per week for at least 10 minutes.
Regular stretching will:
- Reduce muscle tension
- Decrease joint pain
- Improve circulation
- Improve range of motion
- Decrease risk of injury
There are two main types of flexibility activity:
This involves holding a position for several seconds. Stretch until you feel a slight discomfort or tension in the muscle and tendons and then hold the stretch for 15 to 60 seconds. It's important to breathe deeply while you hold these stretches to encourage good blood flow. Perform each stretch four or more times. It's best to warm up the muscle before you stretch. Finish a walk or other light exercise with a static stretch targeted to the muscle group used.
This type of stretching involves fluid, repetitive and exaggerated movements. These movements are performed in a controlled manner to help warm up the muscles you plan to work. For example, think of the warm-up a batter does before he steps up to the plate. Typically, he swings the bat back and forth several times in an exaggerated way.
Because of the motion involved, it's ideal to do this stretch as a warm up. Do 10 to 20 repetitions before the formal exercise activity begins.
Mind and Body: Exercises that offer Flexibility Benefits and More
Yoga is a series of poses that are performed with focused breathing. Poses range from lying on the floor while completely relaxed to more difficult postures that may be quite challenging. Yoga can be done anywhere and improves balance, flexibility, range of motion and even stress relief.
Tai Chi is a series of postures or movements performed in a slow, graceful manner. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion. It is low-impact, requires no special equipment and can be done indoors or out, either alone or in a group. Benefits of this type of exercise include improved strength and flexibility and reduced tension.
Neuromuscular Integrative Action is another type of movement that emphasizes cardiovascular fitness by blending Eastern and Western movement including Yoga, Martial Arts, Tai Chi, Aikido and dance. It's a fun way to gain strength, flexibility and balance. NIA also helps you reduce stress and connect with your body.