Stretch Regularly to Stay Flexible for Life?

A sedentary lifestyle can cause flexibility to deterioate rapidly, making regular stretching exercises vitally important

Credit: Flickr/lululemon athletica

Try doing a moderate activity, like taking a brisk walk, before stretching

Regular stretching exercises are essential to maintain flexibility as we age

To perform everyday activities with ease, the body needs to be flexible, which refers to the ability of the joints and their attendant muscles to move easily through a specific range of motion.

The more flexible you are, the lower your risk of injury or the development of lower-back pain.

Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle can cause flexibility to deteriorate quickly, making everyday activities more difficult to perform. That’s why it’s important to stay physically active and do regular stretching exercises, especially as we age. 

Static stretching (individual stretches 
that target a specific area or group of muscles) 
is the most common technique used for improving flexibility.

Do a Brief, Moderate Activity Before Stretching

Before you begin stretching exercises, do a moderate, non-stop activity (e.g., brisk walking) for 3 to 5 minutes to warm the body and increase blood flow. Warm muscles lengthen more easily and with less discomfort.

As you stretch, breathe comfortably and avoid overstretching – always work within your own range-of-motion limits. Stretch to relax the muscle – never to the point of feeling pain. Hold a stretch for 20 to 60 seconds and repeat each stretch 2 to 5 times.

Many Internet sites feature information on static stretching exercises, but for the best stretches to meet your specific needs, consult a physiotherapist or certified personal trainer.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.