FITNESS FIRST: Stretch yourself: The low down on flexibility

We’ve come to the end of our introduction to the major components of working out. We’ve covered cardiovascular health, strength training and now we come to flexibility.

We’ve come to the end of our introduction to the major components of working out. We’ve covered cardiovascular health, strength training and now we come to flexibility.

To attain a truly healthy body, you need to balance cardio, strength and stretching. While a strong heart, bulging muscles and good bones build the base of fitness, flexibility completes the package.

Stretching after cardio and strength training is the best way to prevent injury and let you keep up that fancy fitness routine.

Keeping muscles supple and long protects them from wear and tear and ensures that they do not put too much stress on your ligaments, joints and tendons.

Maintaining a wide range of motion will also allow you to work out more effectively, push harder, and to feel better throughout those busy days.

Back pain? Neck soreness? Most of this strain can be released by stretching out those muscles and keeping them nice and flexible.

Flexibility is easiest to integrate into a workout after cardio or lifting activity. Muscles should be stretched when they are already ‘warm’ from sustained activity. This makes it easiest to lengthen them.

Ideally all the muscles in the body should be stretched, but if you have limited time (and who doesn’t?) you should focus on the muscles you have been using in your workout.
The same rule applies to stretching as it does to lifting, but even more so. The muscles in your body are all connected to each other.

So if you stretch out your calves, you should also stretch out your quadriceps, hamstrings and back (basically the muscles in your legs and back).

And, every stretch should be held for at least thirty seconds.  No bouncing. Hold the stretch. It will keep your body healthy and maximize your workout.

Amity Weiss is a professional personal trainer from America living in Kigali.

Amity_weiss@yahoo.com

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