Fitness and Flexibility

We've all heard the drill, stretch before and after exercising. If you're anything like me, you generally don't listen to people that are smarter than you and know what they're talking about. Call it stubbornness, stupidity, laziness, whatever. When I was running on a regular basis, back in the day when I was a skinny bitch, I can count on one hand the number of times I actually stretched before a run. I would go balls out during the workout and then just want to drag my butt home before the sore muscles set in. BAD Dual Mom. Surprisingly enough I never did serious injury to myself. I was lucky. I'm a few years older and wiser now and I try to do a few stretches before each session at the gym, if nothing else I stretch out my hamstrings.

36% of your body mass is made up of skeletal muscle, the percentage is a bit higher for men. These muscles are what allow us to walk, run, run our mouth off, pick up our kids and hug them, drive our cars. Any motion, and non motion for that matter, involves the use of muscle. There are approximately 639 skeletal muscles in the human body.

Did you know that bears are the only mammals in the world that can go for prolonged periods of time (hibernation) without losing muscle mass and having their muscles atrophy? The rest of us....yeah use it or lose it as the saying goes. The layer of muscle inside a woman's uterus is the strongest muscle in the body. The heart obviously performs more work over an average life span than any other muscle in the body.

Ok, enough riveting facts about muscles. The point here is that our muscles are important and we seldom give credit where credit is due. Stretching before and after a workout is uber important. Taking a few minutes to stretch and warm up your muscles before beginning exercise releases a lubricating substance from the cartilage within the joints, which aids the fluid motion of muscles and also keeps bones from scraping against one another at connection points in the body. Lubricated and fluid moving muscles have more flexibility which reduces your chances of injuring them.

There are some great resources on the web that will list some basic stretches everyone should do, webmd.com is one of my favorites. Mayoclinic.com also offers some great basic stretches you can do before and after a workout. Both are reputable sites that know there stuff. As for the benefits of stretching, one of the best workouts I've had over the past five weeks is after a yoga class. It literally feels as though your body is fluid. If you have never tried a yoga class before, I strongly encourage you to check it out. Ensure it's a beginner class (advanced yoga scares the crap out of me) with an experienced instructor. You'll thank me for it later.

17 comments:

Daffy said...

Stretching is awesome! It's one of the main reasons I stick with pilates...I like faster moving workouts....

When I stretch well before going to bed I don't actually snap crackle and pop as I climb out of bed the next morning.

Menopausal New Mom said...

This is great information. Thankfully, the VHS tape I'm doing right now for exercise has a very good warm up and cool down so I have to do it right Lol!

Going to be posting either this Sunday or Monday my progress on the Lose it Bitch program. Those three weeks away, well if I at least maintain that 5 pounds I lost those first 10 days, I'll be thrilled!

Mae Rae said...

this is great. I didn't post this week becuase of the ban on electronics and well a camera is one of those things. I love a good stretch after and now on my way to the gym for the end of week workout killer. YiPPee for me, I will make sure I warm up and down.

theothermommy said...

I am one of those people that always skips stretching. And now I will never do it again.
Skip it that is.
I love yoga, it's the perfect excercise for someone like me who hates cardio, and always makes me feel really good and relaxed after.

gayle said...

Thanks for the reminder about stretching!

Paula Rodriguez said...

I too wish I would have listened. I recently pulled the groin muscle. Don't know how I did that but I did and now I have not been able to exercise for the 2nd week. I'm walking a bit and I've certainly learned my lesson.

I really enjoyed reading your blog.

Paula Rodriguez said...

I too wish I would have listened. I recently pulled the groin muscle. Don't know how I did that but I did and now I have not been able to exercise for the 2nd week. I'm walking a bit and I've certainly learned my lesson.

I really enjoyed reading your blog.

Laura said...

I've always stretched, it does make for a better workout, i generally feel looser & i'm able to put harder

Danielle said...

I agree that stretching is very important, but you also need to pick good stretching exercises. I was once told that your muscles are like a rubberband and that if they are cold they could stretch and break. They need to warm up to be the most flexible. So a slow jog is the best way to warm them up.
That is just what I have heard, I may have to do some research on it.

Danielle said...

I agree that stretching is very important, but you also need to pick good stretching exercises. I was once told that your muscles are like a rubberband and that if they are cold they could stretch and break. They need to warm up to be the most flexible. So a slow jog is the best way to warm them up.
That is just what I have heard, I may have to do some research on it.

Danielle said...

I agree that stretching is very important, but you also need to pick good stretching exercises. I was once told that your muscles are like a rubberband and that if they are cold they could stretch and break. They need to warm up to be the most flexible. So a slow jog is the best way to warm them up.
That is just what I have heard, I may have to do some research on it.

Missa said...

I agree with what @Danielle just said. I think you need to get a bit warm first before you start to strech at the beginning of a workout. I know I feel totally still till my heart starts to melt some it away. I usually do about 5 mintues at a slower pace on the treadmill or elliptical to warm things up before I go into 'kick butt' mode.

Cheers,
Missa
LosingEthel

The Power of One said...

Hey, Girls (and Guys),

Kudos on all of your hard work. Several of the bloggers I follow are participating with this blog to lose weight. I am a fluffy girl but I am okay with where I am at right now.

At one point in my life, I needed to lose weight and thinking of others helped me to be a better eater. Here is a sugggestion that worked for me. When you get the munchies and you are losing the battle, ask yourself, "Do I really need this or is this a selfish want?" Then remind yourself of the 1 billion people struggling and barely living with malnourishment and a lack of food. I have found that when you give your hunger perspective, it helps to you to more accurately evaluate your need vs. your want. Remember, it's all about eating to live, not living to eat.

Good luckk with this new change in your life. I have read so many sucesses already.

www.thepowerofonlyone.blogspot.com
(This month's topic--World Hunger)

AKA LisaB (LadyWanderlust) of World According 2 Lisa

Angelia said...

I love yoga-but it angers me that the girls on the DVD never break a sweat. Is yoga supposed to make you sweat!?

Hayley G said...

Just found your blog - it is wicked awesome, and I can't wait to keep reading. You made my day.

Kat said...

I want you guys to all know that all your tips are awesome tips!! I am really glad you're here! I'm down 17 lbs!

Angelia said...

You guys have an award over on my blog. Thank you so much for being here and supporting and encouraging all of us!