Weight Loss with HEALTHeME

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Stretching for weight loss

Stretching and weight loss.

From reducing blood pressure to helping you manage stress, there are many benefits associated with an exercise program. But, one of the most important aspects of your workout takes place after you finish: it’s your post-stretch.

Some of the benefits associated with stretching include decreased muscle tension and soreness, improved posture, and decreased risk of injury. Reducing the risk of injury is especially important for people just beginning an exercise or weight loss program. There is nothing more frustrating than committing to change and then being unable to stick with it because you are side-lined by pain or injury.  

Make the most out of stretching: 
  • Stretch muscles only after they are warm! “Cold” muscles that haven’t been warmed up properly should not be stretched because this can increase the risk of injury. Warm up for a few minutes or wait until after your walk before stretching.
  • No pain, lots of gain! If you stretch to the point of pain, muscles will contract to protect your joints from injury; this is exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve! So, go slow, and stretch to the point of tension – not pain!
  • Take a deep breath! Breathing helps the muscles (and you) relax so continue to take full, deep breaths while stretching. You can even use your breath to time your stretch by holding each stretch for 3-4 deep breaths (about 15-30 seconds).
  • Don’t bounce! When you stretch a muscle, take your time getting into the stretch and then hold it. Holding your stretch gives the muscle time to relax and is more effective.
Here are some stretches to include in your post-walk routine:
  1. Calf Stretch: step forward with your left leg and keep your right foot on the floor (toe pointing forward, heel down on the ground). Lunge forward by bending the left knee (it should line up directly over the ankle, not over your toe). Continue to press the right heel into the ground and don’t let it come up. You should feel this in the lower part of your right leg (calf and ankle). Hold for 15-30 seconds, repeat on the other side.
  2. Hip Flexor Stretch: keep your left leg back in the lunge position. Come up on your left toe and tuck your hips under your body (think of a puppy dog tucking his tail between his legs). You’ll probably feel that stretch right away in your hip flexors, at the top & front of your hip. If you need a deeper stretch, you can bend the right knee a little bit. Hold for 15-30 seconds, repeat on the other side.
  3. Hamstring Stretch: step one foot forward with your heel on the ground, toe up. Keep your toe up and bend at the hips with a flat back until you feel the stretch on the back of your thigh. Think about bringing your heart towards your knee; don’t let your forehead lead towards your foot – this will cause your back to round. Hold for 15-30 seconds, repeat on other side.
  4. Outer Thigh Stretch: sit down and pick up your right leg; leave your left foot on the ground. Cross your right ankle just above your left knee; your right knee should fall out to the side. When you look down, it should look like the number 4 or a triangle. Flex your right foot. If you don’t feel the stretch on the outside of your leg, lean forward just a little bit. If you feel too much, straighten out the left leg.