Stretching Toward Health

By Kimberley Payne

Treat yourself to a stretch today! As we age, we all want to move easily and safely through the day. The way to maintain or improve flexibility is to stretch. Stretching may benefit our mind as well as our body. When done in a slow and focused manner, stretching can be an excellent way to melt tension and reduce stress.

Good flexibility reduces our risk of injury, improves balance and helps to maintain good posture in activities of daily living.

Before starting a stretching program remember to always warm up with a gentle, rhythmic exercise such as walking. Begin from a comfortable position, such as standing or lying on the floor. Do not bounce or force the stretch. Gradually ease into it and stretch to where you feel a slight, mild tension, never to the point of pain. Do not hold your breath as you stretch. Take deep, slow breaths.

Some stretches to get you started:

Total Body Stretch
Lie on your back and bring your arms up over your head and reach back. Press your knees down and bring your toes up toward your face. Hold for a count of four and relax.

Front Hip Stretch
Lie on your stomach. Bring your right heel up towards your buttocks. Hold for a count of four and relax. Repeat with your left heel.

Neck Rotation Stretch
Sit tall in a chair with shoulders relaxed and chin tucked back. Turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Hold for a count of four, then return to centre. Repeat on the left side.

Back Thigh Stretch
Sit tall in a chair with your right foot on a support in front of you and your left foot flat on the floor. Reach forward towards your right foot, keeping your back straight. Hold for a count of four and relax. Repeat with the other leg.

Ankle Stretch
Sit tall in a chair with your right foot on a support in front of you and your left foot flat on the floor. Make a full circle slowly with your right foot. Keep your heel on the support and make the circle as large as possible. Repeat with other foot.

The more frequently we stretch, the more flexible we’ll remain as we get older. Stretching, when done the right way and regularly, feels good and is good for you. Note: Please consult your personal health care professional before starting a stretching or exercise program.

Kimberley Payne, a former Personal Trainer who lives in Ontario, combines Christian commitment with ten years experience in the health and wellness arena. Visit her Website www.kimberleypayne.com

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