Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stretching Exercises to Increase Body Flexibility

Stretching exercises can get your body ready for more exercising, reduce your risks of injury by keeping your joints and muscles fluid, provide a relaxing way to end workouts and help your body recover after aerobic activities, according to the American Heart Association. Stretches can be done by people of all ages and physical conditions in a variety of positions. Perform stretches gently, without sudden movements.
Upright Stretching
In order to prepare your body for more intense exercises, include some standing stretches in your warm-up routine. Standing stretches will increase the heart rate faster than floor stretches. For example, try a leg-stretching exercise. Stand facing a wall. Slowly lift your right foot and bring your heel to your buttock. Use your right hand to grab hold of your right ankle. Sturdy yourself by placing your left hand onto the wall. Gently pull on your ankle until you feel a mild stretch in your right thigh. Hold this stretch 10 seconds. Slowly return your leg to the original position. Relax 10 seconds and repeat.
Chair Stretching
You can stretch while sitting in a chair, whether a wheelchair or fixed, firm chair. Maintaining flexibility in your spine and neck makes movements such as looking behind you, moving your upper body and bending over easier. Keep your spinal column and neck flexible by doing a seated spinal rotation. Sit upright in your chair. Lift your left arm over the back of your chair's left side. Rotate your upper body and place your right hand onto your chair's left armrest. Slowly turn your neck and look over your left shoulder. Hold this position for 15 seconds while you move your eyes to the center position, then to the right and back to the center. Slowly return your body to the original position. Relax 10 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Floor Stretching
Floor stretches provide a relaxing way to let your muscles cool down after aerobic workout routines while letting your heart rate return to normal. You can stretch out your lower back area by lying on your back on an exercise mat or floor. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet are firmly on the surface. Tighten both your abdominal and hip muscles while flattening your lower back against the surface. Hold this tension for 10 seconds. Release the tension and relax 10 seconds, then repeat.
Aqua Stretching
Some people may be unable to perform land-based exercises comfortably due to physical constraints or pain. Water stretching exercises take pressure off the joints, making movements easier and less painful than those done on land. For example, you can keep your shoulder joint flexible by doing some arm overheads while either sitting or standing in shoulder-deep water. Lift both arms overhead and hold for 10 seconds. Return to original position. Relax 10 seconds, then repeat.

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