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The Importance of Stretching Exercises

By: David Osgathorp

Through bad lifestyles, repetitive sports or general lack of movement we have created chronic cases of bad posture brought about by muscle imbalances. By imbalances we mean, some of the muscles have become weak and lazy and are allowing other muscles to do the extra work as we move around- these become short and tight.

When there are muscle imbalances around joints such as the spine, shoulder or knee, the tight muscles pull the joint out of position as the weak ones are no longer able to counterbalance the pull. The result? Pain and inflammation.

How do most people deal with their pain and inflammation? They take anti-inflammatory tablets! This will not get that stressed shoulder back into position, it may numb the pain for a short while but you can guarantee it will be back. So instead of taking a pill to numb the pain we should correct this imbalance ourselves and bring the joints back to their optimal alignment.

This can be done with a simple stretch and strengthening programme designed to attack those short/tight and long/weak muscles.

As you take yourself through the stretch checklist pay particular attention to the muscles being stretched. How tight do they feel?

a) Is it almost painful to move into the stretch? If the answer is yes, you have found a short tight muscle that has been working too hard. For each one that feels this way, give it a tick and add to your stretch list. This may need prolonged stretching over a number of weeks, hold the stretch at the point you feel discomfort- not pain! Try holding for up to 30 seconds x 2-3. Over time this should start to become easier.

b) Can you feel tightness but its not too painful? Again if the answer is yes add this to your list. However after a few days stretching this may ease off with any tightness disappearing. At this point, cross this stretch off your list.

c) Are you feeling no stretch at all in that particular muscle? If this is the case, cross this off your list, this muscle is either at a normal length or has become long and weak. In which case strengthening is necessary not stretching!

Create your stretch programme by going through the list right now! You will be halfway to creating a better posture and better you! Just stretching alone may alleviate those painful symptoms. Try this for the next few weeks and you will be ready to take it to the strengthening phase. Thus ensuring you remain in this position of ideal alignment forever!

David Osgathorp Owner, All About You Performance & Wellbeing. Unit 3 Broadbent Close, Highgate, London, N6 5JW. Tel: 020 8348 9706, Mob: 07779 729122. If you would like more information then pleas contact us via the website: http://aayou.co.uk/default.aspx

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