Add Strength Training to Your Stretching
Let’s face it: Stretching feels good. It is relaxing, and getting all the kinks out of scrunched-up muscles can be liberating. Unfortunately, improving flexibility through a stretching class is simply not enough, either as a therapeutic approach, or to protect your body from future damage. Strength training is a necessary companion to your stretching class.
As we age, the natural loss of muscle makes it harder for our bodies to handle daily activities, such as bending, walking and picking up heavy objects. This loss of muscle tone contributes to back problems, knee injuries and a myriad of other body ailments. No matter how limber you may be, the cardinal rule for muscle is “use it or lose it.” Strength training not only helps maintain muscle but it can also
- reduce the risk of osteoporosis by increasing bone density
- help you maintain a healthy weight—lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat
- protect your joints and ligaments, helping you to avoid future injuries
- improve balance and overall well-being
It is important to engage in the right kind of stretching, as well. Some studies have suggested that the traditional static stretching (stretching a muscle or muscle group to its farthest point and then holding that position)—often a part of stretch and tone classes—is not ideal when used alone before exercise. Instead, the dynamic stretching (slow, controlled leg and arm swings or torso twists) often used by athletic teams to warm-up or a combination of the two (gentle general exercise to warm up and gentle dynamic stretching after exercise) may be more helpful. A 2008 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that engaging in both static and dynamic workouts reduced the risk of knee injury in female soccer players by half.
To truly improve your physical health, heal from injury and prevent future chronic ailments, a good overall fitness plan is needed. We can design an individualized plan that incorporates the right kind of stretching, strength training and aerobic exercise to turn your body into a well-oiled machine.