Wake, Exercise, & Stretch
Wake Up, Warm Up, Exercise, Stretch
I have found that I’m not very productive in the mornings until my body is warmed up and stretched. So, I’ve gotten in the habit of stretching almost every morning, before I do anything else. But I warm up BEFORE I start the stretching.
Stretching muscles that have not warmed up enough can cause pain and possibly lead to injury. I feel certain I have all kinds of “micro-tears” and inflammation because I use to do that, and I will assure you…. it is painful!
What I have found to be most effective is to perform “static” stretches (where you hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds) right after exercising. This is the best way to prevent injury, help with muscle soreness, improve flexibility, and prepare your body for the next day of exercise.
Apparently, musculoskeletal health is based on having good joint alignment and good muscle balance. Injuries typically happen not because of what we do, but how badly we do what we do.
When a muscle is being used, it contracts and shortens. Even sitting contracts and shortens your muscles. Every time you sit, your hip flexor muscles shorten. And if you sit too long, you’re asking for some major discomfort over time…. take it from me
Exercising also contracts your muscles and when you continuously call upon a muscle to contract and shorten (like when you do a bicep curl or sit for too long at your desk), it will eventually fail to lengthen completely. Though the degree of shortening may be small, it will add up over time. And there’s nothing good about a hard, non-flexibile muscle. Eventually, this shortened, non-flexible muscle will change the normal range of joint motion, and when that happens….. you’ll unfortunately know it.
Ever had tight hip flexors? Ever had plantar fasciitis? A chronically shortened achilles displaces the heel bone backward and upward causing painful heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. Chronically shortened calves, hamstrings, and/or quadriceps can misalign the knee joint and can cause tendentious, runners knee, and tight IT bands which could result in surgery.
Immediately after exercising (and I mean before sitting down or getting in the car), stretch out the muscles you’ve just used. There are many videos on youtube showing specific stretches for specific muscles. I even have a routine that I may eventually put up on YouTube.
I like to start my days by warming up and breaking a sweat. There are several great ways to “warm up” so make sure you do something. Once my muscles are warm, then I exercise, and when I’m finished, I typically start my “cool down” routine by stretching my achilles and move upward so that I get my calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, inner thighs, outer thighs, hip flexors, and glutes.
I love stretching because it promotes flexibility which, to me, is just as important as strength, speed, and endurance – especially if you’re an athlete, a runner, or 42 years old.