When you think of excercising, you may picture yourself lifting weights or working up a good sweat on the treadmil. But, do you also see yourself stretching? Compared to strength training and aerobic excercise, stretching sometimes gets overlooked-especially if you are pressed for time. However, it is an essential part of a well-rounded fitness program.
Butterfly Stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs bent close to your body, and the soles of your feet together. Lean your chest forward silightly as you gently press your knees down. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.
Torso Stretch: Stand with your feet apart, lightly wider than your shoulder width. Place you right hand on your right hip for support. Reach your left arm up overhead, bending over to the right. Stretch until you feel slight tension through the left side of your torso. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Stretching not only omproves your posture and range of motion, it also eases soreness and tension in your muscles, and helps you relax. In order to maximize the benefits of stretching, keep the following tips in mind.
Warm up first: Stretching is safe and more effective when your muscles are not cold and tight. Five to 10 minutes of light cardiovascular excercise, such as walking or jogging, is enough to heat up your muscles.
Aim for slow and steady: Bouncing can injure your muscles, making you less flexible in the long run. Maintain each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds- longer, if your muscles still feel tight. Be sure to breathe deeply while stretching.
Don't stretch strained muscles: If you have any injuries, talk with your doctor about the right stretching excercises for you. Keep in mind, becoming flexible and limber can take time. Be patient: Try to work stretching into your everyday routine.
Stretching is a key element to preventing injury on the trail. Stretching reduces muscle tension and allows better, more flexible movement. Be sure to stretch your lower back, legs, torso and neck. Stretching is necessary and will help prevent soreness and injury -- both on and off the trail.
Take care to prevent "pack lifting" injuries. Jerking a 40-pound(or more) pack off the ground and swinging it onto your back is a fast way to injure your back. One safe way to lift your pack is to place the pack on the ground with the shoulder harness facing you, grab the shoulder straps and, with straight to slightly bent back and slightly bent knees, put your knee into the backpadding of the pack and pull the pack up your leg to the upper thigh. With your leg under the pack for support, slide your arms one at a time through the shoulder harness.
The great thing about hiking is that it is not a competition or a race. You can control your pace and pause to enjoy the views as you please. Hiking also offers a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and is a great way to get you heart, lungs and muscles into shape whil taking in the sights.