Saturday, January 22, 2011

Let's talk about stretch, baby.

When I was little, I truly enjoyed watching "Inspector Gadget" and I wanted Penny's magical book in a mean way. But that's not to say that I wasn't impressed by the Inspector himself. When he released his go-go Gadget arms, I sat mesmerized. I wanted my arms to stretch like that. I wanted to be able to grab my Barbies from afar. But it never worked. Ever. (And I never did find a magical book like Penny's, but I digress.) While it's true that my arms have grown a bit since then, they still don't stretch on demand. I have to stretch them myself, and I do so every single day even though I still can't reach clear across the room. I've since learned I never will be able to, but I stretch on with my strechin' self because I know that it's good for me. Especially since I strength train at least three times a week.

When I orient new members at the gym, I explain to them the importance of a good warm up and cool down. Start any strength training session with at least ten minutes of cardio, I say. Get the blood flowing, warm up those muscles. We want them to be loose and limber, especially since we're about to tense and tighten them in the process of strengthening them. And then I show them how to use our Cybex equipment, after which I take them to what one of my clients continuously calls "the birdcage". And it really does look like one, no? Best part—it truly gets the stretching job done. Static stretching after a good session of strength training really elongates your muscles. Muscles that, as I stated before, are probably somewhat tense and tight. Tense and tight does not promote fluid movement. The more limber we are, the easier it is for us to move our limbs. If you have a TRUEStretch in your gym, learn to enjoy it. All you have to do is mimic the pics.

It feels good, I swear. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds, release and repeat if you'd like. (This, of course, is just a sampling of the images you'll find on the poster that should accompany your TRUEStretch. If it isn't there, as someone on-staff if they can either A) teach you a few moves or B) load you any manual that might have come with the TRUEStretch.)

If your gym doesn't have a TRUEStretch, have your fitness director contact TRUEFitness pronto! (I'm not even getting anything for that endorsement. I just really like the product.) And PS: the purple stretch above is my personal fav. It really pulls the lats, even the shoulders. The lower back, too if you round your bum toward the ground ever-so slightly. (I like the one in green as well, but I'm too short for it. Can't reach the bars above. Insert sad face here.)

Don't have a gym membership? No worries. Come back tomorrow and I'll outline a perfectly decent 10-minute stretch routine that you can do in the privacy of your own home. No equipment necessary. (Click the mailbox in the column at right and I'll automatically send you the article!) Until then, make some time today to go-go stretch out your muscles. Even if you didn't hit the gym. A bit of stretching every day is good for you, you'll see.

And now, I'm off to run in the dunes again. Yep, bitter cold out there. Holy hell, it's bitter cold. I'm going to let it motivate me to keep on keepin' on, which hopefully will give me strength on those gosh darn hills.

Don't forget about tomorrow's 10-minute stretch routine.

Question: Are you good about stretching?

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