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Do you Stretch?

Dr. Eleanor Host here —today I'd like to discuss a fundamental aspect of our well-being

– stretching. Whether you are preparing for physical activity or concluding a workout,

stretching plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and functionality of your body.

Let's see why stretching is important and how to do some upper and lower-body


The Significance of Stretching: Stretching is integral to maintaining the flexibility and

strength of your muscles, facilitating easier movement and enhancing overall mobility.

Consider it as a method of priming your muscles or offering them a moment of gratitude, depending on the timing of your routine. In this discussion, we will explore two primary forms of stretching – dynamic and static.

Dynamic Stretching: Preparation for Physical Activity: Before engaging in physical activity, dynamic stretching serves as the preparatory phase. This method elevates your heart rate and readies your muscles for the upcoming exertion. Experiment with leg swings, arm circles, or high knees to invigorate your muscles, signaling that they are about to partake in physical activity.

Static Stretching: Acknowledging Your Body's Effort: Post-exercise, static

stretching assumes the role of expressing appreciation to your muscles for their efforts.

Engage in gentle stretches, such as calf stretches or reaching for the sky with your

arms. Holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds while breathing deeply communicates

acknowledgment to your muscles, affirming their performance.

Pre-Workout Stretches: Preparing for Physical Activity:

1. Leg Swings: Stand tall and swing one leg forward and backward, like a

pendulum. Switch legs and repeat.

2. Arm Circles: Extend your arms and make small circles, first clockwise and then


3. High Knees: March in place, lifting your knees as high as you can. It serves as a

preparatory ritual for your upcoming physical activity.

Post-Workout Stretches: Extending Gratitude to Your Muscles:

1. Calf Stretch: Utilize a wall, place one foot back, and press your heel into the

ground, feeling the stretch in your calf.

2. Overhead Reach: Extend your arms skyward, elongating your spine. It serves as

a rejuvenating stretch for your entire body.

3. Quad Stretch: Stand on one leg, grab your other foot behind you, and feel the

stretch in your thigh. Repeat the process on the opposite leg.

It is good to find a stretching routine that matches whatever physical activity you are

going to be doing and also after that activity. For example, I do slightly different

stretches if I’m going to bike ride versus if I’m going to run versus if I’m going to ski. If

you haven’t been routinely stretching, you should notice that you have less stiffness the

next time you do an activity, and less discomfort. If you naturally do not have much

mobility, make sure to not overstretch, and just do the stretch to the level of tightness

rather than pain. Even if you do not have gymnast levels of flexibility, everyone benefits

from stretching.

In conclusion, stretching is your body's way of expressing readiness for action. Whether

you are gearing up for physical activity or winding down, incorporating stretching into

your routine is a commendable practice. Your body will undoubtedly express its

gratitude with each step you take.


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