Monday, August 18, 2008

Fitness Tips: Stretch Exercises

In addition to proper diet and nutrition, regular exercise at least three times a, for a half and hour duration, is important to maintaining your ideal body weight. This is especially important as we age and our body decreases its metabolism rate. The following article focuses on stretching exercises, which are an important thing to do before any workout program.

Most people include stretches as part of their pre-exercise warm-up routine. They sit on the ground with their legs straight, and fingers reach out for their toes, and hold the stretch for a good minute or so. People do this thinking that it will them prevent injury during exercises, and keep them flexible.

However, such stretches can actually slow you down, and increase your chances of pulling a muscle! Stretches held for 30 seconds or longer - called static stretches - lengthen and sedate your muscles, temporarily weakening them and "deprogramming" them for fast movement.

Doing too much static stretching just before your exercise routine or training will result in a lack of spring in the muscles, caused by a temporary loss of elastic recoil and neuromuscular coordination. This is known as the flat tyre effect.

To avoid this, one should do dynamic stretching. These sort of stretches are held for five seconds or less, and done in a controlled manner at different speeds and intensity. Dynamic stretching primes muscles for more power and better coordination, and decreases muscle tightness and thus prevents muscle tears.

So dynamic stretching should be done before your exercise routine.

Static stretching should be done after your workout - this will help maintain flexibility, restore muscle length anbd reduce muscle stiffness.

Click here for an article on how to do dynamic stretches.

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