Stretching: It’s Not Just for Intense Workouts Anymore
Thu, 02/03/2011 - 5:55pm | Jason Finney
What do running, shoveling snow and sitting at your office desk have in common? These are all activities that you should not begin until you’ve stretched properly.
I know. Stretching before basic yard or office work sounds like overkill. But stretching can help you avoid aching muscles and painful injuries. In fact, you should consider stretching before many daily activities, including gardening, computer work or other repetitive stress tasks (i.e., line work at a factory).
Most people know to stretch before aerobic exercises (running, biking, swimming and hiking) and anaerobic exercises (weight lifting, sprints and downhill skiing), but they often forget to stretch before these other daily activities. And these activities are a frequent cause of injury.
Stretching can improve flexibility and posture, decrease stress on muscles and tendons, promote relaxation of muscles, help decrease lactic acid build-up in the muscles and promote joint conservation. Without stretching, you run the risk of straining or tearing your muscles, tendonitis, joint irritation or delayed onset of muscle soreness.
So, how do you stretch properly?
A good rule of thumb is to stretch your muscles until you feel a “gentle” pull. Do not stretch to the point of pain, as that will be counterproductive. Once you feel the pull, maintain the stretch for about 30 seconds. Repeat this three to five times. Stretching should be done after a short 5- to 10-minute warm-up, such as walking, prior to the activity and then again after the activity. Stretching post-activity will help decrease lactic acid build-up and decrease muscle soreness.
Here are some stretches that you can try:
Remember, whether you’re running a 5K or typing a 500-word blog entry, it’s important to stretch to avoid injury.