Oh my gosh I am such an old lady- 61 years old next week. And as you all know I recently had my arm in a cast as I broke it skiing. So the cast was on for just 4 weeks (and then I went to a removable splint). I had broken my radius- so my arm bone but when the cast was removed guess what. My wrist didn't work at all anymore! Can you believe it? I hadn't injured my wrist at all but just because I didn't use it AT ALL for a month it honestly was like a rock. It couldn't do anything. So have spent the last several weeks stretching and strengthening it.
It was a good reminder that if we limit our motion for any reason we lose ability and range of motion. This morning I went with a friend to visit a REALLY Old lady- 97 in just a couple of months. At the assisted living center there was a "work-out" class going on. And what were they doing? Simple stretches while sitting in a chair. I'm not sure about you but I want to be able to do more than that in my old age.
It is easy to overlook stretching in our work out plans. And yet this is a crucial part of any physical fitness regime.
Age and inactivity can contribute to inflexibility, stiffness and even loss of range of motion. Yet constant daily practice can help us regain our flexibility and can even take us way beyond where we have gone before. The secret is in gentle, constant, DAILY effort.
How We Lose Flexibility
As we age, flexibility diminishes within the joints. We can also lose flexibility through lack of stretching and physical activity.
Stretching is a physical activity that elongates connective tissues, muscles and other tissues. The benefits associated with stretching include:
Reducing muscle tension and relaxing the body
Improved coordination and freer movement of body and limbs
Increased range of motion in the associated joints
Prepare the body for physical activity
Preventing injuries from tight muscles during physical activity
Creating a mind body connection
Reduce the risk of back problems
Reduce muscle soreness after exercise
Ten tips on how to stretch
1. Do everything slowly.
2. Hold the stretch for at least 10 seconds prior to exercise (warm-up) and for at least 30 seconds post exercise (cool-down).
3. Breathe normally and relax while holding the stretch to the point of pain.
4. NEVER, EVER do any bouncy stretching, always hold and relax.
5. Focus on the muscle you are trying to stretch and then try to lengthen it.
6. If a particular muscle group is tight, then stretch it in stages. Stretch as far as you can, then relax it and stretch again. This is most important during cool-down.
7. Move slowly out of the stretch.
8. Remember to stretch both sides of the body.
9. Increasing the range of movement around a joint will help the blood flow to the muscles surrounding the joint and increase circulation that will carry away any lactic acids that may build up in the muscle.
10. Do more stretching in addition to just warming-up and cooling-down. As we get older our muscles shorten naturally, and it is vital for everyone that stretching becomes part of your normal everyday life. Gyms that offer stretch-classes or Yoga, where the aim is to permanently and progressively increase your flexibility are well worth considering if time and money allows.
There are many charts and tutorials available on google and youtube. Additionally you may want to take a gym class in yoga or stretching. But whatever you choose to do- do it daily and with gentle consistency.
Our challenge for this week of competition is to stretch for at least 10 minutes per day. You can include this as part of your daily exercise minutes or do it in addition to your minutes but begin to include daily stretching in your physical routine. For every day that you stretch at least 10 minutes you can claim 5 bonus points. And yes you can stretch on Sunday too- for a total of 35 possible bonus points.