Why Stretch, And Dynamic Warm-Up Stretching

By Sandra Bevin – Personal Trainer, I Can Personal Training ?As mentioned in my first article I am astounded by the number of athletic clients that come to me who don?t stretch either before or after training. Who, when asked to touch their toes, can barely make it passed their knees. Why stretch? ? Aids in recovery of muscles ? Releases tension and prevents muscles from becoming tight ? Assists in helping your body to achieve maximum results ? Avoid serious injury or debilitating setbacks ? Improves performance ? Lengthen muscles I personally love the feeling of stretching out tired and tense muscles, I find it extremely calming. Stretching is not meant to cause pain, it is meant to AVOID pain. When stretching, it is necessary to feel a little discomfort or mild tension whilst you work the stiffness out of your muscles. If however you start feeling anything beyond that, release the stretch otherwise there?s a chance of damaging muscle, tendons and/or ligaments. It is important to stretch both before training (dynamic / gentle movement) and after (static / held). A good warm-up is essential to any exercise program if you want your body to achieve maximum results. Cold muscles are stiff and inflexible so pushing them straight in to exercise unprepared could cause serious injury or debilitating set-backs. Would you jump straight on your bike if it had been idle for a while or would you make sure it was prepared to function at its greatest potential first? A good warm-up also allows your body and mind to prepare for the ride ahead. It raises your heart rate and increases your respiratory rate which in turn increases blood flow which increases the oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. Below is an example of a dynamic warm-up. It is very similar to what my clients do prior to commencing a training session. Shoulder & neck rotations Gently rotate your head from side to side in an arc motion, ensuring that you don?t arc your head too far back. Then rotate your shoulders in a forwards motion several times, then reverse the rotation a few times.

Cat/Cow back curls Bend forward at the hips, placing your hands just above your knees. Slowly arch your spine upwards (Cat), hold, then slowly bend your spine in the opposite direction so there?s a slight and comfortable curve in your spine (Cow). Repeat slowly until you feel any tension released in your back. If your lower back is particularly tight you could then reach your right hand down to the outside of your left ankle (keeping back as flat as possible, with a slight bend in your knees), hold, then reach your left hand to the outside of your right ankle. Slowly repeat the ?windmill? motion. This will also provide a good stretch for your hamstrings (back on your legs).

Leg swing (for glutes) Standing up tall on your left leg (slightly bent at the knee), belly button drawn back in to your spine, raise your right leg, bent at the knee to a 90 degree angle. Keeping your knee bent, swing your right leg in an arc until you feel a comfortable stretch in your glutes (butt), continue swinging leg forwards & backwards several times before switching legs.

Hip rotations Standing up tall on your left leg (slightly bent at the knee), belly button drawn back in to your spine, raise your right leg, bent at the knee to a 90 degree angle. Hold whilst you maintain your balance and then slowly rotate your right leg from the hip out to the side, keeping the knee at a 90 degree angle. Repeat the rotation, whilst balancing on left leg several times before switching legs.

Squat/Row Standing up tall, feet approx hip width apart, belly button drawn back in to your spine. Keeping your heels flat on the ground at all times, sit back like you?re going to sit down on a chair (do not bend the back or hips). As you?re squatting down, extend your arms directly in front of you. As you push through your heels to stand upright, pull (row) your arms back, keeping elbows bent and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Throughout the whole motion keep your chest up. Repeat at least 10-15 times to get the blood pumping through your legs and upper body. Whereas my clients would now perform several light cardio drills before commencing training, I would recommend that you now jump on your bike and gradually increase momentum until you reach your set training speed. By Sandra Bevin Personal Trainer – I Can Personal Training

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