Table of Contents
Bouncing Toward Gains
Stretching before exercise can help elongate muscle tissue in effort to prevent potential injury such as strains or significant tears. Stretching after exercise can help aide with muscle soreness and can help increase your range of motion, as your goals during exercise surely cannot be to feel tight or limited. How about stretching as a form of exercise? It may seem like not enough to reach your fitness goals, but if your goals include increasing aerobic threshold, range of motion and increasing muscle tone, consider the following.
There are many turnoffs to spending time going to the gym to workout, and not exactly does it always deal with motivation. Health concerns can oftentimes keep those who desire a workout that resembles the regimens they may have completed at a younger age or when they were involved in athletics. Scheduling around lengthy and stressful work schedules can also contribute to lack of exercise. In order to combat the demanding lifestyles we live and look good and feel good doing it, a minimal effort is all that is needed. As you begin to stretch as a form of exercise, keep in mind that additional stretches such as hamstring stretches, quadriceps stretches, biceps, triceps, pectoral, etc. should still executed as you normally would before any form of exercise. Now, we begin.
Concept and Design
Ballistic stretching is a concept that focuses on passive movements in a bouncing movement. It is important when beginning these exercises to start off slow! Do not speed up movements unnecessarily, because form is most important. We will begin with a description of hip flexor and hip extensor movements to improve strength, range of motion and tone. Hold onto or lean against a wall or a firm railing or countertop in a designated room or at your gym. You should be able to stand up tall without slouching or bending at the back, doing so could lead to injury. Stand on your leg closest to the wall or railing with opposite leg off the ground, ready to move. Begin by lightly swinging leg forward and backward, with no more than a fifteen percent effort. As you initiate these movements slowly add more of a push in each direction, only at a comfortable threshold. Once you reach a range of motion that is challenging but not painful, continue for up to one minute before switching legs. Do this in sets of up to three times or as many as you feel comfortable completing. This can be viewed as an exercise or an alternative for running on the treadmill as that can be hard on knees and at times feel monotonous.
Next we can shift upward to the upper body toward the shoulder. Like the hip, the shoulder is not a hinge joint; it can rotate internally and externally and swing in a perfect circle or in any direction unlike an elbow or knee. While standing, begin to swing your arms at the shoulder forward and backward. Do not swing too high starting out, but slowly graduate to a larger range of motion. Once you have gotten close to ninety degrees, begin adding some horizontal adduction in the swings, and less shoulder extension. You essentially will be performing a similar sized range of motion but your hands will be retracting once your hands are straight ahead of your shoulder joint (as if you were just holding them straight forward). Continue this motion for up to a minute or two before taking a break. You will feel a swollen feeling in the shoulders and arms, as you have been working the rotator cuff, deltoids, biceps and triceps in these motions. Executing these exercises for another set or two is perfectly fine and is encouraged.