Stretching is important for everyone, from the conditioned athlete to the fitness warrior. Stretching makes the muscles, ligaments and tendons more flexible and elastic-like. Rather than tearing or breaking when under strain, a flexible muscle is more likely to stretch when exercising. Flexibility prevents injuries especially to the back, Achilles tendon, ankles, knees, shoulders and other joints of the body.
It is never advisable to stretch a cold muscle, it is best to warm up first by walking slowly for 5-10 minutes, stationary cycling for 5 minutes or jogging slowly for 5 minutes before stretching. Stretching is joint specific — you have to target each muscle group and joint separately. Stretch gently and do not bounce or jerk the stretch and stay just short of the pain zone while stretching. After participating in a physical exercise activity, stretch again.
All stretching exercise are specifically designed to increase flexibility of muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. The stretching exercises presented within this section focus on the neck, back, upper extremities, and lower extremities.
Prior to beginning any exercise program, including the fitness activities lashed out by the Coquitlam Fitness Trainer, individuals should seek medical evaluation and clearance to engage in an activity. Not all exercise programs are suitable for everyone, and some programs may result in injury. Activities should be carried out at a pace that is comfortable for the user. Users should discontinue participation in any exercise activity that causes pain or discomfort. In such event, medical consultation should be immediately obtained.
An individuals’ fitness depends on a number of components, and flexibility is only one of them. That’s why, at Coquitlam Fitness Training, we have proposed some basic rules to remember:
- It is always best to consult with your physician before starting an exercise program.
- When ready, begin the exercise program very slowly. It is important to perfect the technique to ensure maximum results and to minimize injury.
- Warm up before doing any vigorous exercise. Never stretch a “cold” muscle.
- Do not over stretch. Only stretch as much as is comfortable. Overstretching or “Bouncing” a stretch can weaken joints, tendons or muscles.
- Perform the strengthening exercise 2-3 times a week and stretches 3-5 times each week. If a particular muscle group is tight, stretches may be performed daily. The aerobic conditioning program should be performed 3-5 times a week.
- Gradually increase the number and intensity of these exercises.
- You may experience some minor discomfort with any new exercise program. However, the discomfort should not linger after the exercise.
- Be patient. It may take several weeks before you start seeing results.
- Note: Any neck exercise or position that causes increased or prolonged discomfort in the arms or any lower back exercises that cause increased discomfort in the legs should be stopped immediately.
- The exercises within this guide are intended to be performed by a person who has no active injury or on-going disability.