All posts by Jean

Stretching Things a Bit

Stretching

I do some weights and I do a lot of stretching.- Mike Ditka

In my career as a yoga instructor, I have often heard “Yoga’s just stretching.” Yoga is far more than just stretching. It takes strength, balance and flexibility to perform some of the yoga moves that are practiced routinely in the United States. However, stretching is an important part of any exercise routine.

Stretching may take a back seat to your exercise routine. You may think that stretching your hamstrings and calves is just something to be done if you have a few extra minutes before or after pounding out some miles on the treadmill. The main concern is exercising, not stretching, right?

Not so fast. Although studies about the benefits of stretching are mixed, stretching may help you improve your joint range of motion, which in turn may help improve your athletic performance and decrease your risk of injury. Understand why stretching can help and how to stretch correctly. – “Stretching: Focus on flexibility”, Mayo Clinic Staff, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931

Yoga can involve both static stretching and dynamic stretching. A typical restorative yoga class focuses primarily on static stretches and holds in this type of yoga can be held for as long as 1-10 minutes. In a vinyasa yoga class the instructor focuses more on dynamic stretching by taking you through a sequence of poses that flow from one pose to the next.

Stretching a muscle to the full extent of your ability and holding it for 15 to 30 seconds is what’s called a static stretch, and there’s no harm in stretching that way as long you don’t stretch until it hurts. But studies suggest a dynamic stretch is just as effective, and sometimes better, especially before your workout. A dynamic stretch… moves a muscle group fluidly through an entire range of motion.

With any stretch, static or dynamic, you should feel a stretch, but you shouldn’t feel pain. So there is no need to stretch farther than the range of motion you typically need. – Sonya Collins, WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/how-to-stretch

I am always amazed by how often people ask for medical advice from their fitness instructor. I am not a physician and I have not had any medical training. At best, a fitness instructor has had training that gives them an overview of the body and how it works.

With that said, the stretching routine in this video is one that I’ve developed for myself. After some research on risk, I feel comfortable recommending these stretches to anyone who would like to incorporate some stretches into their daily routine.

In addition to being good for you, these stretches just feel good. I started to incorporate this sequence of stretches into my morning routine after I had herniated a disk in my neck in a car wreck. I just feel better on the days when I do these stretches.

Namaste.

 

Please consult your physician before starting any exercise routine.