Stretching for good posture

British referee Howard Webb goes through his fitness routine during a training session in 2010 at the Odendaal High School in Pretoria, South Africa. Picture: EPA

Sunday, January 22, 2012

WHEN you are already strapped for time and need to maximise your work-out period, it is especially tempting to forgo stretching.

Stretching, however, is most beneficial for muscle flexibility which will ensure that we are less prone to exercise injuries.

If you're still in your twenties and thirties, you might not feel the need to do so since our muscle groups are still limber. But, be warned that this will not be the case when you've past your prime active life.

As we grow older, our muscles too would stiffen, affecting flexibility and upping our chances of sports related injuries.

But it isn't just to ensure flexibility and boosting sports performance, stretching can help do so much more!

Are you complaining of lower back pain?

The glutes and hamstring might be responsible for the pain you're feeling. This is especially true when you constantly exercise without stretching before and after your workouts, causing the muscle to tighten. Stretching these muscle groups will help relax them and will ensure that you will not feel pain in the lower back.

The best way to stretch these muscle groups? Sit on flat ground with one leg stretched out and the other bended in towards the other thigh and reach out to touch your toes. You can also do squats which will maximise stretching the glutes.

Always tripping and feeling clumsy?

Rest assured that you will be more sure-footed when your sense of balance is in-check. Stretching will help improve both flexibility and balance, giving you the confidence boost you need to land and stay on your feet, minimising injuries.

The best way to stretch for maximum flexibility? While most yoga poses seem complicated, some are relatively easy to adapt for maximum stretch benefit. The "tree pose" can help improve balance as it forces the person to use their core muscles (around the abdominals and lower back). Stand with your feet close together and tuck in your tailbone so your back and your buttocks are relatively aligned. Slowly lift your right foot and rest it as high as you can on your left inner thigh.

Depending on your balance, you may want to try and lift both hand above your head (palms together) and hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch to the other foot and repeat.

Is your mum complaining about your bad posture?

If your work revolves around the computer (ehem!) and are always slouched, then over time someone is bound to notice your bad posture and this can affect the way you look. Slouching and bad posture makes you appear tired (think haggard) and shorter (no thanks, am barely five feet). All the fitness and even fashion and lifestyle magazines will tell you that good posture will help make you look slimmer too!

The best way to stretch away bad posture? If you're on the go and stretching before a workout, the best and easiest way would be to stretch your chest muscles. You can do this by standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your chin slightly up and stretch your arms to your back, interlocking your fingers as they meet. With fingers still together, raise your arms slowly upwards (don't worry they won't stretch all the way up, unless you're double jointed).

However, if you're stretching at home, you can lean your back against a wall, with your feet a few steps away. Align your buttocks, back and shoulders to the wall and slowly roll your head back to touch the wall as well. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.

The Brunei Times


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