It’s never too late to start stretching; the older we get the more important stretching and flexibilty become. With age and inactivity the body gradually loses its range of motion – muscles can lose their elasticity and become weak and tight. But our bodies can recover lost flexibility and strength with regular activity and physical exercise.
Every day is different – some days we’re tighter or looser than others. Remember that you have control over what you feel by what you do. Be relaxed during stretching and do it regularly and you’ll naturally become more active and fit. Don’t compare yourself to others – even being tight and inflexible shouldn’t stop you from stretching! Stretch properly within your own limits, stay relaxed and don’t compare; stretch by how you feel.
Stretching keeps your body ready for movement. Stretch whenever you feel like it; it always feels good! Be careful to warm up before stretching; muscles need to be warm and pliable to achieve optimal success. When you’re beginning, don’t stretch too far. Start light—when your muscles feel the first indication of a stretch—and increase after your body relaxes. Hold the stretch in a comfortable position – tension should subside as you continue to hold the position.
Breathing is an important part of the stretching process. Breathe in a slow, deep, natural way – exhale as you start the stretch and always breathe normally! It’s important to get more oxygen into the muscles to replace what was depleted during exercise activity.
Don’t bounce (bouncing tightens stretching muscles!); stretch and hold. Concentrate on the stretched area; feel it and ease off if necessary. Proper stretches should be held a minimum of 10-15 seconds and done 2 to 3 times to help increase flexibility; the more inflexible you are, the longer the stretch should be held!
A great resource guide to follow is the manual “Stretching” by Bob Anderson. Published in 1980 with Shelter Publications, Inc., this book shows you many stretches for all parts of the body with great illustrations and easy-to-understand instructions. It also gives you techniques for specific sports enhancement.
A final note — don’t try to be flexible; learn to stretch properly and increase flexibility over time. You’ll feel better equipped to handle your day!!
Sue graduated with a bachelor’s of science in physical education and English from Western Illinois University.
ACE-CPT, Certified Personal Trainer
Fitness Specializations and Interests
Sue is a veteran personal trainer at the Gainey Village, having been here over 9 years. She moved to Arizona in 2000 from the Chicago area where she grew up, went to college and raised her family. Sue has been in the exercise field since 1988 teaching aerobic fitness classes and moved into the training genre in the mid 1990′s. She specializes in working with joint replacement, arthritis, osteoporosis and injury post-rehab clients. Sue has developed the 50/50+ Program for the Village – an ever-changing series of classes designed for ‘Boomers and Beyond’ that focuses on balance, stretching, coordination and strength training.
“We are all moving in the same direction, so wouldn’t it be great to be prepared!?