Flexible muscles improve our everyday function as well as athletic performance. Simple tasks such as tying our shoes, lifting a package, or walking the dog become easier and less tiring when we have a good range of motion in our joints. As we grow older, flexibility tends to diminish. What can we do to regain and maintain our flexibility?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), people should perform flexibility exercises for each major muscle-tendon group. These groups include shoulders, chest, neck, lower back, legs, and hips. ACSM also says by stretching daily, we can see and feel improvement in range of motion in our joints.
The ACSM says just 10 minutes of stretching two days a week produces rewards. Here are a few tips about stretching:
• Warm up first
• Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds
• Don’t bounce!
• Aim to feel a stretch – NOT pain
• Relax and breathe
• Remember to stretch both sides of the body
Unfortunately, stretching and flexibility are often left out of our daily routine. Staying active and participating in a weekly stretching routine can help prevent overall loss of mobility and decrease the risk of injury.
Garber, Carol Ewing Ph.D., FACSM, Blissmer, Bryan Ph.D., Deschenes, Michael R. PhD, FACSM; et al., FACSM Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: July 2011 – Volume 43 – Issue 7 – p 1334-1359 doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318213fefb