Stretching: The Fountain of Youth

Stretching is an important, yet often neglected part of any exercise program. Not only does stretching increase flexibility, it also improves range of motion of your joints and can help prevent injury. Stretching even improves circulation and helps relieve stress. According to The American Council on Exercise, at least 30 minutes, three times per week, should be spent on flexibility training.
 
Before stretching, warm up with five to 10 minutes of light activity. Better yet, stretch after you exercise, when your muscles are warm and more receptive to stretching.
 
When you’re stretching, keep it gentle. Breathe freely as you hold each stretch. Don’t bounce. Expect to feel tension while you’re stretching. If you feel pain, you’ve gone too far. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, relax and repeat the stretch 2 more times.

Stretching Exercises to do at Home

Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sit on the floor with your right leg extended, and your left leg bent with the sole of your foot against your right inner thigh.
Reach forward with your hands, leaning your upper body forward and bring your chest toward your thigh.
Make sure you don’t round your upper back.
Get to the point of a mild stretch and hold for 15-30 seconds.
Repeat the stretch on the left leg

Forward Lunge (hip flexor stretch)
Begin in a kneeling positon.
Bring your right leg forward and resting on the knee of the back leg
Be sure that the front ankle is directly under your knee and that your back leg is extended out behind you.
Gently lower the hips downward & forward and hold that position for 15-30 seconds.
Repeat on the other side.

Spinal Twist
Lay flat on your back with your arms outstretched.
Hug you right knee into your chest.
Bring you right knee across your body all the way to the left
Keep your shoulders flat on the ground and your left leg straight.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds
Repeat on the other side.

Overhead Shoulder Stretch
Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart, shoulders relaxed and chest lifted.
Raise your right arm overhead, bending the elbow, bringng your the hand behind your neck.
With your left hand, hold your elbow and gently pull it behind your head.
Hold the stretch 15 seconds
Relax and repeat with the left arm.

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