Warm Up and Stretch Out
The beautiful warmer weather beckons us to exercise outdoors and many of us will be starting walking or jogging routines now. Seems like a good time to talk about warming up and stretching.
KEY: WARM-UP FIRST, STRETCH OUT AFTER.
My massage teacher, Ben Benjamin, was a dancer turned Medical Massage Therapist who worked with the New York City Ballet. One thing he used to stress was correct warm-up before exercise, to avoid injury.
Many people launch right into stretching before exercise when the muscle tissue is “cold” and resistive to stretching. Much better before exercise to gently warm-up joints through loosely swinging arms and gently jogging in place, bouncing on a mini trampoline, or some other gentle movement. This activates joint fluids and begins to increase blood flow. Then move into your exercise slowly-stroll for a few minutes until your muscles have a chance to warm up. Then you can increase speed and intensity of your exercise.
Stretching is more valuable after your exercise, when your muscle tissue has been contracting and may be shortened. Stretching lengthens the muscle fibers to increase your range of motion and decrease muscle tension. Your warmed-up and tired muscles will be happy to have a good stretch. Remember that optimum stretch hold is 20 seconds or more. AS ALWAYS LISTEN TO AND RESPECT YOUR BODY.