Health and Fitness

A Stretching How-To

Cindy Trowbridge, associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Texas at Arlington, offers this advice about stretching:

Before the workout:

You want to warm up and do the activity at a slower pace. The brain can set the muscles to prepare for that. Too-aggressive stretching on a muscle that’s not willing to give is likely to cause tearing or micro-damage.

Micro-move: you want to be doing a lower level of motion than the exercise.
Walk the talk: Take exaggerated steps, or at least walk briskly. Engage your lower and upper body muscles.
Move it: Kick your butt, bring your knees higher. It’s an important neurological warm-up.

After the workout:

When the workout is over, make sure you stretch these muscles, she says. “Take advantage. Anything heated up is more pliable.
Quadriceps: Lay on your side and pull your heel to your butt OR stand up and do that.

There are a lot of ways, but one of the better ones is to sit on the floor and try to reach your toes.
Calf muscles: Hang your heels off a step.

Chest muscles:
Stand in a door frame and put your hands on either side of it. Lean forward.

As with all exercises, she says, hold it till you feel it release – that ahhhhh feeling. It could be 10, 20, 30, 45 seconds.

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