We all know that exercising routinely is important to maintaining our overall health and wellbeing. What we may not consider is how important it is to completely stretch out before beginning out workout. If we do not take the time to stretch before beginning our workout, we significantly increase our risk of injury. Cold, rigid muscles just do not work as well and can be torn or strained.
There are several good exercises for stretching our muscles and ligaments before beginning our workout. One of the best is the total body stretch which provides several exercises to improve flexibility in the arms, legs, chest, back and shoulders. As with any workout or exercise routine, be sure and consult with your physician before starting.
You will need some basic equipment including a ball and a chair or bench. Begin by walking in place for five to ten minutes. Do this slowly and build up to a rapid walking pace. Hold each of the stretches for ten to thirty seconds and then repeat each exercise one to three times. Stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.
Stand straight with your shoulders back. Hold onto the wall if necessary to balance. Take the top of your right foot and bend the knee. Bring your foot forward to try and touch your buttocks. Keep your knee pointed toward the floor. You should feel the stretching along the front of your thigh. Do not force your foot any further than it can comfortably go. If you want a deeper stretch, squeeze your hips forward. Switch sides.
Place your left foot in front, keeping the heel of your right foot on the floor. Bend forward from your hips and keep your back straight. Slowly lower your upper body until you feel the stretch in your calves and hamstring. Switch sides and repeat.
Shoulder & Chest Stretch
Either sitting or standing (you can use the ball or the chair) clasp your hands behind your back, keeping your arms straight. Lift your arms toward the ceiling, only as high as is comfortable. You will feel the stretch in your chest and shoulders.
Again, either sitting or standing, clasp your hands together in front of you. Keep your arms straight and round your back. Force your arms forward away from your body. You will feel the stretch in your upper back.
Perform these few stretching exercises before beginning your workout to help prevent injury to your muscles. These exercises help warm up your muscles making them flexible and able to take your workout.