Being Healthy And The importance of stretching:
Ever been to the gym, or a class and witnessed those around you happily stretching whilst you sit there grunting trying to touch your toes? The majority of us lead a very sedentary life; sitting at a desk, sat in the car, sitting down at meals times, lounging on the sofa in the evenings and generally sitting down too much. Fitness over 40 can be difficult enough without the the added motivation to get off our buts.
If this is you, no wonder you are stiff! Sitting for long periods of time without stretching will reduce and lead to an imbalance in your muscles. Inadequate flexibility can lead to injury, so it is important to keep yourselve supple. As part of our fitness plan for men over 40 or fitness for women over 40 we recommend a quality stretching routine to be part of the regime.
Have you ever bent over to pick up a watering can after gardening or picked keys up off the side and felt your back twinge? Back injuries are very common with inadequate flexibility. This is often caused by having tight muscles in your hip, back of the legs and lower back. If you lead a sedentary life style your hamstrings (backs of legs) become short and tight, your glutes (bottom) becomes weak, the hip flexors( front of hip) become tight, and most likely if you are not exercising your core will be weak, leaving your poor back in a spot of bother.
I may have picked the back as an example, but the truth is if you do not stretch effectively your body will be muscularly imbalanced leading to a whole host of aches and pain, making you very susceptible to injury. If you are following our workouts as part of your fitness programme for weight loss, to improve your general well being or have decided to start playing sport, it is imperative that you follow the stretching guide to avoid injuring yourself and keeping your body balanced. Fitness over 40 should be a progressive improvement, creating a new homeostasis.
Think about it, if you were to brush down your squash racket and decide to challenge a colleague to a game of squash because you used to be “pretty good” at it, what do you think would happen? Squash is a multi- movement pattern sport, meaning you need to be flexible enough to lunge, squat, twist, pull, push, run and accelerate quick! If you are tight as a board because you’ve been stuck working on your bum, you are at a high risk of injury. Chances are you will go for it and hurt yourself!
Being inflexible and living a sedentary lifestyle leads to developing muscle imbalances, which can cause poor posture. Poor posture then has an impact on the weight bearing of your joints; this will stress your muscles and tendons, which most often leads to more pain. Before we know pain is more pain and we are reaching for the drug cabinet with a list of excuses to why we cant exercise…..
But did you know that poor posture also affects the functionality of your organs? Circulation becomes poor. Your muscles act as pumps throughout the body to shift fluids. If you have developed bad posture, they cannot perform their task efficiently. This is thought to lead to a hostile environment and is believed to be related to developing disease and dysfunction.
How to assess your own posture for being healthy:
Turn sideways in front of a full mirror. Draw an imaginary line from your anklebone, all the way up between your hip, shoulder and ear. If your tummy protrudes, or your neck is forward, or your back does not have the natural curve, this is an indication that you have developed poor posture.
An example of good posture: An example of bad posture:
Being inflexible is an example of muscle misuse. However, for a muscle to be imbalanced it can also be longer and weaker. This can be due to its “partner” muscle or a muscle group being too tight, forcing the muscle to stretch and become weak.
Shorter and tighter muscles (the workaholics) are known as “tonic” muscles, and the weaker and longer (lazy) muscles are called “phasic”. When exposed to stress that causes discomfort to the muscle the tonic muscles will tighten and shorten, and the phasic muscles can lengthen and become weak. This is why any trauma caused by an experience such as a rugby tackle, or a car accident can lead to chronic muscle and joint problems. Exercising and stretching allows the body to deal with these situations more effectively and help to minimize injury.
In order to regain good posture you need to lengthen the tonic muscles and tighten the phasic muscles. Before beginning our workouts make sure you do one of the warm up videos. After this you can always add the extra stretches below and then repeat the stretches after you have worked out. If you feel some muscles are tighter than others then it is good practice to repeat the stretches for those tight muscles more frequent.
Let’s get you back in balance, and fighting fit!
Starting with the Upper-Body stretches.
Neck Rotation: Neck Side Flexion:
Levator Scapulae : Neck Extensors :
Chest : Chest:
Scratch Stretch: Rhomboids:
Middle Back & Abdominals: Lats & Obliques:
Trunk Rotation: Mckenzie Push-Up:
Lower Body Stretches:
Squat Stretch: Quad & Hip Flexor:
Lunge & Hip Flexor: Hip & Glute:
Adductors: Lying Hamstring :
Waiters Bow, Hamstrings, Lower Back, Mid back:
IT Band: Good Posture : Calves:
All of the stretches that are unilateral( one arm or one leg) need to be repeated on the other limb, 3 - 5 times a side depending on high tight you are in that area. The tighter muscle should be stretched more often. Make sure that you breathe consistently and don't hold your breathe. Move between stretches slowly and you can take the stretch to where you feel uncomfortable. Do not push too hard in the beginning and if we use a number scale for stretch intensity, 1 being no stretch and 10 being I think I have torn my muscle then as a guide your stretch should be between a 6 and a 7.