Stretch Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

TAYLOR DUFFIELD
Staff Writer

Stretch 1 Stretch 2 Stretch 3 Stretch 4

If exercising or physical activity is a part of your daily activities, then stretching should also be at the top of your list. Engaging in physical activity without properly warming up and stretching your muscles exposes you to a higher risk of injury. Try these simple exercises to keep your muscles loose and your workouts damage-free.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Shoulder injuries are frequently caused by athletic activities that involve excessive, repetitive, overhead motion, such as swimming, tennis, pitching, and weightlifting.” Shoulder injuries tend to take a considerable amount of time to fully heal and can be extremely painful, which is why it is important to take the proper precautions before engaging in physical activity.

The first picture is an example of a simple shoulder exercise to do before exercising without causing any strain to the area. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, stretch your right arm across your chest. Use the opposite hand to grasp your elbow and slightly push it towards your body. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds and then switch arms.

The next area to target during your pre-workout warm up is stretching your back to avoid muscle strains and sprained ligaments. “While there are many types of lower-back pain…the most common reason for sports-related back pain is simply improper stretching,” according to the Centre for Orthopaedics and Sports Injuries. Back injuries can cause chronic complications and sometimes requires corrective surgery.

The second picture is an example of a back stretch you can do to reduce the risk of back injury during physical activity. Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Interlace your fingers, and turn your hands so that your palms are facing upwards and extend your arms above your head. Slightly bend to one side and stretch your back and abdomen as well as your arms. Hold for at least 20 seconds before slightly bending to the opposite side. Repeat as necessary.

Groin strains, or groin pulls, are also a very common sports related injury. Sports or exercises that require sudden bursts of sprinting have an increased risk of groin injury. Fortunately, these injuries can be avoided with the proper warm up routine and stretches.

The third picture is a common example of a groin stretching exercise. Start by sitting on the floor with the bottoms of your feet together and pulled towards your body as is depicted in the picture. Gently apply pressure to your knees by slightly pushing them towards the floor without causing pain. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. This stretch helps when performed post-work out as well.

Finally, stretching your legs, calves, and knees should be included when warming up for working outs, especially for runners and bikers. To reduce the risk of leg muscle injuries, incorporate stretches such as the one in the fourth picture. To begin, sit on the floor with your legs together and extended straight out in front of you. Bend forward stretching your leg muscles and hold for at least 30 seconds, repeating as necessary. While stretching, try alternating between pointing and flexing your toes to stretch out your ankles as well.

Physical exercise applies a great deal of stress onto your body. Implementing a daily stretching routine that include the highlighted areas above will help reduce the risk of injury caused by muscle strains, which can be very painful and will force you to stay off your feet for recovery. You’ll achieve your best workout when your muscles are loose and prepared for your exercises.

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