(CARLSBAD, CA) – Running, cycling, swimming, dancing, aerobics, pumping iron, playing tennis, rowing, kickboxing, and weightlifting. These are what most of us think of when it comes to exercise. But, what about stretching? Do you see stretching as an important factor in your physical fitness?
The Mayo Clinic lists stretching as one of the basic components of a well-rounded fitness routine. Because cardiovascular and strength-training exercises typically cause muscles to contract and flex, it’s vital to stretch those muscles as part of a balanced fitness regimen.
Stretching promotes better posture, improves the range of motion in your joints, and helps to reduce stress. Stretching increases blood circulation, maximizing the blood flow to your muscles. Regular stretching also makes it easier to perform everyday tasks, such as reaching up to grab a glass out of the cupboard or bending down to tie your shoelaces.
Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett choreographs stretch sequences that are used in 32,000 group fitness classes taught weekly around the world. Missett offers these suggestions for safe and effective stretching.
Warm Up – Stretching cold muscles can lead to injury. Start with low-intensity movements for approximately five minutes before performing your stretches. Save deep stretches for the end of your exercise routine, when your muscles are warm.
Focus on the Majors – Target major muscle groups. Stretch your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, lower back, and shoulders. Pay particular attention to any muscles that you regularly use in your daily work or leisure activities.
Hold Steady – When you engage in a stretch, hold a steady position and don’t bounce. Bouncing creates tears in your muscles that leave scar tissue, making you even less flexible.
Use Caution – Ease into your stretches slowly and take your time before going deeper. You should feel some tension with each stretch, but not excruciating pain. If your muscles are screaming for mercy, then you’ve gone too far.
Breathe – Many of us unconsciously hold our breath while stretching. This actually causes tension in the muscles, which is counterproductive to stretching. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply, allowing the blood flow and the oxygen to seep into your muscles.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,800 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.