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 Stretching Excercises

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reggie
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reggie


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PostSubject: Stretching Excercises   Stretching Excercises Icon_minitimeFri Jul 27, 2007 11:28 am

Stretching Excercises Can Perfect Your Muscles
By Ian Lee

How many of you actually stretch before beginning a workout? Being a seasoned gym rat, I know few actually perform this valuable exercise. Most guys ignore stretching because they either think it makes them look like dorks or they don't understand how important and beneficial stretching excercises are, both before and after a workout.

how stretching works

Before explaining the inner-workings of stretching, one must understand how muscles function. Muscles are made up of small strands of tissue called fascicle , which themselves are composed of a whole bunch of other smaller components. Add to that connective tissues, fascial sheaths, lubricants, and a plethora of other things that will make even a biologist's head spin, and you get a fully functional muscle. Working out makes all those parts interact with one another.

When a person contracts a muscle, fascicle strands come into play. Depending on the poundage, a muscle will contract a different amount of fibers. Muscle strands can't vary how much they contract; they either contract or they don't, so in order to lift a heavy load, more fascicles have to constrict. That being said, as you increase the intensity of your workout, more muscle breakdown and fibers intertwine.

After an intensive workout, muscles need to repair themselves and fibers that are entangled impede the recovery process. When you stretch a muscle, tension in the fiber increases, aligning the disorganized tissue in the same line -- like when you pull on a wrinkled shirt. In addition, it keeps the blood flowing and tendons flexible.

benefits of stretching

As aforementioned, stretching realigns muscle fibers. This speeds up the recovery process after a hard workout. When fibers are intertwined, scar tissue requires more time to heal. Serious bodybuilders know how important recovery can be. When a muscle takes too long to recuperate, an entire workout cycle can be interrupted, slowing down muscle gain.

Studies have shown that performing stretching excercises reduces the risk of injury and soreness. It also reduces soreness felt the next day by decreasing the build-up of lactic acid in muscles. Stretching can also prevent cramps; some muscles, like calves, have a tendency to cramp up more than usual.

Furthermore, stretching attenuates stretch reflex , the body's automatic defense mechanism to overextension. Holding a stretch for a prolonged period of time habituates the reflex so it reduces its signal. This helps muscles have a fuller range of motion -- quite useful in bodybuilding since a proper range of motion during reps increases a workout's effectiveness.
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reggie
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reggie


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PostSubject: Re: Stretching Excercises   Stretching Excercises Icon_minitimeFri Jul 27, 2007 11:29 am

types of stretches

Ballistic
Ballistic stretching was prevalent in the past, but is seldom used among most professionals today due to its unsafe nature. Such stretches use a person's own momentum to hyperextend a muscle beyond its normal limit. For example, when stretching a hamstring, a person would forcibly press down or bend over towards the knee in a jerking motion.

Static
Static stretching does not require a partner and is very safe and effective. To perform a static stretch, simply set yourself in position and use your own strength to get the desired tension. Once in place, hold the stretch in a comfortable yet firm pose.

Passive/Isometric
Passive and isometric stretching is quite possibly the best and most frequently used. To perform either one, you need outside assistance, like a towel, a partner or a wall to increase the range of movement. Not as dangerous as ballistic stretching and little more forceful than static stretches, this category is a must for some body parts, like calves.

how to stretch

Today, ballistic stretching is frowned upon, unless you are a gymnast or ballerina. You should never jerk a muscle beyond its limit. If it doesn't feel comfortable, don't do it.

Warming up before stretching is very important. A warm-up will increase elasticity and coordination; in other words, it will reduce the risk of having an injury while performing stretching excercises, which would be a shame since stretches are supposed to prevent injuries. Keep in mind that stretches are not warm-ups! A warm-up starts with joint rotations, then a little bit of cardio or aerobics -- about 5-10 minutes.

After the warm-up, stretches are usually performed before, during and after an exercise. They work best when held for up to 30 seconds. Instead of just sitting on a bench waiting for your next set, stretch; it will give you something to do.

Isolate muscles while you stretch. It's always better to work on one muscle at a time than a whole bunch of them at once. Isolating one muscle gives you more control.

stretch different muscles

Chest
Stand next to the edge of a surface, like a doorway. Grab on to the edge of the surface while keeping your hand a bit above shoulder level, your arm slightly bent and your elbow down. Bend your torso away from the surface until you feel tension in your chest.

Shoulders
Grab your left shoulder with the right hand. While holding your left shoulder, keep your right elbow at chin level. Grab that very same elbow with your free left hand and let go of your shoulder. Now pull your right elbow back with your left hand and push your elbow out as if you were throwing an elbow hit to the side. Repeat with other shoulder. Don't push out with your elbow too much; the brunt of the stretch should come from pulling the elbow.
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reggie
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reggie


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PostSubject: Re: Stretching Excercises   Stretching Excercises Icon_minitimeFri Jul 27, 2007 11:29 am

Triceps
Raise your arm straight up. Bend your elbow as if you were trying to scratch your back. Using the other arm, grab your elbow and pull back.

Biceps
Stand facing a flat surface, like a wall. Stretch your arm out at shoulder level along the wall. Make sure your entire arm and shoulders hugs the surface, then turn your torso away and extend your arm straight as much as possible.

Lats (back)
The easiest way to stretch your lats is to grab on to something with a close grip at waist level, then bow down (like they do in Japan) and push backwards with your legs. Exhaling gives extra results.

Quads
While standing, bend your right knee and grab on to your ankle with your right hand. Pull your ankle towards your buttocks. Make sure you keep your stretched leg perpendicular to the floor and hold on to something so that you don't fall down. Do other side.

Hamstrings
Rest your foot on something above knee level and bend over your leg as if you were trying to touch your knee with your forehead. Keep your knee slightly bent. Do other side

Calves
Straighten your arms and put your hands up against a wall at face level. One foot should be closer to the wall than the other (pretend you are trying to push the whole surface). Ground the heel of your foot away from the wall and bend your elbows, bringing your face close to the surface in front of you.

stretch it up

Stretching is an intrinsic part of working out; it helps prevent a lot of injuries. Keep doing it before, during and after each exercise, and you will likely never have a cramp or injury at the gym. And don't worry about looking like a dork, all pros do stretching excercises before workouts.

Resources:
http://www.enteract.com/~bradapp/docs/rec/stretching/
http://kirtland.cc.mi.us/~balbachl/stretch.htm
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