Stretching for Better HealthPosted: November 23, 2010 in Getting Active by Craig Primack MD FACP
When we think of exercise, we usually think of aerobic or strength training, and often neglect an activity that is just as important, stretching. Stretching helps improve your health in a number of ways. It improves joint mobility and flexibility so you can move more easily. It also improves circulation and fights stress, which both benefit your general health. There is also some evidence that stretching helps with pain management. It is important to make sure that you stretch properly in order to not only get the best benefit from stretching as part of your medical weight loss regimen, but also to avoid injury.
Some stretching tips:
• Make sure that you warm up before stretching to ensure that you do not damage your muscles. Ten minutes of light aerobic activity is a good warm up.
• Do not overdo it. Only stretch until you feel a mild, pleasant pull. If you force yourself to overstretch, you could injure yourself. Stretching should not be painful.
• Keep your breathing as regular as possible. Especially, ensure that you do not hold your breath while stretching.
• Focus on specific muscle groups. Your neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, thighs and calves are all areas to target when you are stretching.
• Do not bounce while stretching. Although many 80s exercise tapes show people bouncing while stretching, it is now known that this sort of movement can lead to overstretching and injury.
When stretching is included as part of a medical weight loss program, it enhances the benefits of other exercises and lifestyle changes, and helps you feel and look better faster. As always, consult your medical weight loss team about any new exercises to make sure that they are right for you.