Stretch and Feel Great

Many people will agree that the best part of exercising is stretching. Think of it as a reward for getting through your medical weight loss workout! But even if you do not exercise regularly, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you stretch a minimum of three times per week to maintain flexibility. If you participate in regular aerobic and strength training as part of a medical weight loss program, then you should incorporate stretching into your routine every time you exercise, while staying in contact with your medical weight loss team for support and guidance. Stretching not only improves flexibility — which helps you to perform everyday tasks such as lifting groceries and tying your shoes more easily — but it improves your circulation as well. By promoting greater range of joint motion, stretching helps you keep better balance, making you less prone to falls — an important consideration as you age. Lastly, stretching is a great stress-reliever as it relaxes tense muscles.

To stretch safely and get the most out of your stretches, the Mayo Clinic advises the following tips:

1. Warm up before you stretch. Stretching cold muscles may result in injury, so warm up by walking and pumping your arms. If you have favorite low-intensity exercises, such as marching, do that for up to ten minutes prior to stretching.
2. Avoid bouncing. People often resort to “bouncing” when they stretch. However, this is not advised because bouncing can lead to small muscle tears. When the muscle heals from the tear, scar tissue may from, which tightens the muscle and leaves you less flexible.
3. Don’t hurry. Stretching isn’t a race and you must pace yourself. Take it slow and hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. Perform each stretch up to four times. Remember, it takes time to safely lengthen the tissues.
4. Avoid painful stretches. You want to feel some tension when you stretch, but if you feel pain, then you stretched too far.
5. Don’t hold you breathe. Breathe freely, relax and enjoy the stretch.
6. Stretch after exercise. A good time to stretch is after exercising when your muscles are warm and conducive to stretching.
7. Exercise caution. If you have an injury or strained muscle, stretching it may cause further harm. It’s best to talk with your doctor or medical weight loss team before stretching in these cases.

Stretching can be done anywhere — at the gym, at the office or in front of the television. Stretching correctly offers numerous benefits, such as increased flexibility, improved circulation and greater range of motion. It also feels great, which may be the easiest reason to add stretching to your daily routine.