When it comes to our bodies, one thing that the majority of us forget to do (or don't know how to work into our daily routine) is STRETCH! Think about it like this: Your muscles are like rubber bands. (I always picture the hair ones :P ) You wouldn't just start yanking them every which way and expect them to not break. You would slowly and gradually stretch them out so that they are no longer tight enough to leave ponytail lines after only a few minutes of your hair being in it. Right? Same goes for your muscles ;) (DID YOU KNOW: that exercising can actually SHORTEN your muscles?)
As a former ballerina, I never thought I would see the day that I MISS doing barre exercises. All the stretching and calming of the body and mind that it brings is definitely something I need in my life again. ESPECIALLY because we are back out on our daily 2-3.5 mile tandem babywearing walks, only this time my load is a bit heavier. I have noticed that when I have to bend down and pick something up (which is ALL the time) or have to really reach to grab something, for those few seconds I feel SO GOOD. And that is what made me realized that I need to incorporate more stretching into my daily routines! I used to be very limber and I miss being able to be so in control and in tune with my body. The less tense my muscles are, the less tense my body is. And of course, that leaves me feeling less tense overall!
Here are SIX ways to get the most from stretching: (as found in: Health Encyclopedia from the University of Rochester Medical Center; please click HERE to read the full article!)
- Do 5 to 10 minutes of walking or light jogging to warm up before you start exercising and stretching. Do not try to stretch muscles when they are "cold."
- Stretch at least two to three times a week. If you work out two to three times a week, just make it part of your workout routine.
- Stretch all major muscle groups, especially those your activity involves. For running or other leg-centered exercise, that means the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Stretch the shoulders, chest, and back before activities working the upper body.
- Stretch each muscle group individually using slow, gentle movements. Breathe while you stretch, exhaling as you move into the stretch. Hold the position no more than 20 to 30 seconds. Three to five repetitions is recommended.
- Don't try to balance and stretch at the same time. Holding onto a chair or wall for standing stretches provides more stability.
- Don't bounce while you stretch or make sudden movements. Back off if you experience pain. Stretching should not take a joint past its normal range of motion. Stretching the wrong way can harm muscles by creating small tears that may become bigger when you exercise.
(The first one, I don't stress so much. I am pretty warmed up from just doing my "day." I like wind down (post workout) stretches too! GREAT for building that flexibility! ;)
For a brief list of stretches that are great for everyday activities read the full article mentioned above. Keep an eye out on my YouTube channel for a video with more stretching fun!
Every week, I will be posting a new focus for ways you can get fit, at home, with your babies! (whether you wear them or not!) This is all part of my Get Fit Challenge Group fun! (If you are on FB, feel free to join us! The group reopens every Wednesday for new members!) So each week's Workout Wednesday post will (obviously) cover the theme of the week in the group, but even if you aren't in the group, you can still use the series as a place to find the info you are looking for!