A few weeks ago, just 9 days short of completing an intense 90 day fitness program I had set my mind to, I hit the wall. I mean I crashed and burned. One day, I was feeling good, yes a bit tired, but not too much so and the next I was a crumpled up pile of debris. My body said, “Son, you are done!” And no measure of rebellion was going to change it. I slept for nearly one entire day, half of the next and then suddenly life returned. BUT, in the process, an injury was revealed. And that is what has led me to present you with these 5 easy stretches to prevent injury.
Looking back, though I was pushing too hard in too many ways, not just fitness, taking a few simple steps in the gym may well have spared me weeks of pain and discomfort not to mention all the physiotherapy sessions that have cleaned out my bank account.
So there is my moment of candor and transparency. Hehe!
Seriously though. We often, in our eager ambition forget some of the simple things. For a while, we can get away with it but eventually, it always catches up to us. Haven’t you experienced this at some point in life? Surely you have. And fitness is no different. You have to take care of business, the big things and the little alike. Some elements of the equation may not be fun which is exactly how I feel about these stretches to prevent injury. Yet they are essential- experienced trainer or beginner!
Did you know your calf muscles cross 2 joints? And that means tights calves can cause problems at your ankle and knees. And that can affect how you walk and ultimately increase the wear and tear on your knees.
Begin stretching by placing your hands against a wall at shoulder height in front of you and straighten your arms. Step one leg back, and place the foot flat on the floor. Bend your supporting knee, and lean into the wall while keeping your rearmost heel pressed into the floor. Slide your rear foot farther back if you need a deeper stretch. Hold for the desired and then change legs.
Got a desk job? Sitting down places your hamstrings (the backs of your thighs) in a tightened position and that increase the stress and the risk of injury. In order to properly stretch your hamstrings, sit on the edge of a sturdy chair and bend your legs so that your feet are flat on the floor. Fully extend one leg in front of you. Now point your toes up to the ceiling. Then down toward the floor. Then side to side. Repeat 5 times per leg, 2 times a day.
The second step of this move is to rest your hands on your bent knee. Now lift your chest and then lean forward from your hips bending as far forward as you can. Do not allow your back to become rounded. Keep it straight throughout the movement. Hold this position for a few seconds before you change legs.
Your hip flexor muscles connect the top of your thigh bone with your lower hip bones. When overly tight these muscles can result in chronic and acute hip, back or leg pain.
For a great stretch, stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides. Take a large step forward, and then bend your rear leg to lower your knee to the floor like you would in a lunge. Place your hands on your front thigh for balance and support. Slide your back leg to the rear, straightening it out to increase the depth of the stretch.
You might not realize it as symptoms often appear as shoulder injuries, but tight chest muscles are very common in those who work out regularly, especially men who are working hard on their chest development.
Simply stand in an open doorway with your forearms flat against the vertical door frame. Position your arms so that your elbows are level with your shoulders. Lean forward and push your chest between your arms until you feel a mild stretch. Hold this position for about 5 seconds and then rest.
Those of us with desk jobs or in the social media world of business spend long periods typing and that results in tight forearm flexor muscles. Tightly gripping a steering wheel or lifting weights can result in tension as well. Commonly known as golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome, these conditions are painful.
To relieve these conditions, place your hands together in front of your chest in a prayer position. Lift your elbows and push the heels of your hands inward. Slide your hands down your body while keeping your elbows up. Hold the lowest position you can comfortably before releasing.
I’m 3 weeks into my injury recovery and I have renewed my dedication to stretches that prevent injury as part of my daily gym routine. And on those days when it is not possible to get to the gym, I simply perform them in the quite of my home office. Do I “like” it? Not really. It is boring and I’m eager to hit the weights. BUT, I learned my lesson. I cannot, even with all my experience and training, skip this important element of fitness health. Nor can you!
So, please don’t dismiss this as a part of your daily routine. Taking the 5-10 minutes of extra time to complete these 5 easy stretches that prevent injury will save you time and money in recovery later on. And they are NOT just for you gym goers either… They are for us all!
Photo provided by:http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
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