Stretch for muscle health


Stretching is very important for muscle health. Exercise and everyday tension make muscles tight, which can lead to pain or injury.


Stretching and massage are two important tools that improve flexibility to counteract muscle stiffness. Knowing when and how to stretch can make a big difference in the results you achieve.




Dynamic Stretching - This active style of stretching is great for warming up your body before exercise or for helping you stay loose throughout your day.


External link opens in new tab or windowClick here for examples of dynamic stretching


Static Stretching - This motionless style of stretching is best after or during exercise when your muscles are warmed up. Make sure to breathe deeply and hold each stretch between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Play with the edge of your comfort zone while listening to your body so that you don't over stretch and injure yourself. 


External link opens in new tab or windowClick here for examples of static stretching


If you only do one kind of stretching, I recommend static stretching after a workout when your muscles are warm, and remember to breathe.


* It's very important for weightlifters, athletes and anyone doing strenuous physical activity to spend 10-20 minutes stretching after most workouts to prevent pain, injury and surgery.


If you aren't a fan of stretching, using a foam roller or coming in for frequent massages are additional options to help maintain muscle health.


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Try a Foam Roller - Would you like a way to massage your own muscles or an alternative to stretching?

Foam Roller


Foam Rollers are an easy way to relax and lengthen your muscles. Similar to massage, you can use one without warming up, though the effects may be improved if used after exercise.


Using one of these for 5-10 minutes a day is a great way to give back to your body. You can purchase a roller from Sports Authority, Target or Amazon.


External link opens in new tab or windowClick here for a video demonstration.


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Pilates for Core Strength -


Pilates is an excellent tool for creating core strength. After two weeks of doing 15 minutes, 3 times a week, I felt like a brand new person. Maintaining posture was effortless, my yoga practice improved, and I felt physically strong and more capable in my daily activities.

Pilates



I personally use The Authentic Pilates Complete Mat Workout available on External link opens in new tab or windowYouTube and External link opens in new tab or windowAmazon. This video is led by Romana Kryzanowska, who was the star student of Joseph Pilates. It has beginner (5 min), intermediate (15 min) and advanced sections (26 min), all on one video.


It's an old video, not hip and glamorous, but it offers great results! I recommend practicing the beginner level until that is easy and then moving on to the intermediate level, 3 times a week.


Another option is External link opens in new tab or windowPiYo, a blend of Pilates and Yoga. One of my clients is having great success with it!



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Yoga - Great for flexibility and strength. Try videos at home or sample different classes around town.

Yoga

Below are 3 great videos, free on YouTube:


External link opens in new tab or windowYoga for Weight Loss - This video has excellent cues and support for beginners.


External link opens in new tab or windowRestorative Yoga for Flexibility - Gentle yoga stretches while lying on the floor.


My favorite intermediate level video features Ali MacGraw and is taught by Erich Schiffman. It's available on External link opens in new tab or windowYouTube and External link opens in new tab or windowAmazon.


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Roll a Ball Under Your Feet - Your feet are the foundation of your body. If they are tight or misaligned, your gait (pattern of movement), is thrown off, which can result in muscle tension, joint pain, and balance issues.

Massage feet with a ball


Stretching and massaging your feet can prevent issues that would require a visit to the podiatrist, orthotics and even surgery.

 

One of the easiest ways to keep your feet loose is to roll a ball under your foot at the end of your day. It feels great, it relaxes foot muscles and it stimulates reflexology points, improving overall health.


External link opens in new tab or windowClick here for a video demonstration



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Belly dancing


Belly Dancing - This ancient dance is a fun way to create core strength, loosen your hips, and tone your arms.


Here is a link to great beginner video on YouTube.


External link opens in new tab or windowBeginning Belly Dancing for Fitness


The first few times you try, you may feel awkward and stiff, but after 3 or 4 sessions, you'll get the hang of it!



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Healthy food


Healthy Food


External link opens in new tab or windowEat Local - Search for food grown close to you.


External link opens in new tab or windowThe World's Healthiest Foods - Nutritional info and benefits of each whole food.


External link opens in new tab or windowSam the Cooking Guy - Great food...easy and entertaining!


External link opens in new tab or windowForks Over Knives - A compelling movie on the benefits of eating a plant based diet. On Netflix and Hulu.


External link opens in new tab or windowFat, Sick and Nearly Dead - Interesting movie about the benefits of juice cleansing. On Netflix and Hulu.


External link opens in new tab or windowMichael Pollan - An excellent author of 'In Defense of Food' and many other books.