Keep on stretch­ing

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By MICHELLE BRIDGES

In a pre­vi­ous life, I taught group fit­ness classes. Quite a lot of them. Not just the mod­ern of­fer­ings such as Body Pump and Body At­tack but even the old aer­o­bic classes like New Body and HiEn­ergy.

One of the ben­e­fits of teach­ing three, four or five classes a day – trust me, there aren’t many – is that at the end of class we’d stretch and cool down. Which amounts to four or five stretch ses­sions a day.

Fast for­ward to Crazy Town 2012 and I find my­self bolt­ing out of the gym af­ter a hard train­ing ses­sion with the only thing hav­ing been stretched be­ing my pa­tience when I’m stuck in traf­fic rush­ing to my next ap­point­ment.

But it’s a trap: not only do we stretch less as we get busier, our bod­ies also be­come less flex­i­ble nat­u­rally. And if we’re not care­ful, we’ll find our­selves down on all fours ev­ery time we need to pick some­thing up off the floor, re­sult­ing in a loss of dig­nity on top of the lost flex­i­bil­ity.

Flex­i­bil­ity is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant when we start to get older.

This is be­cause flex­i­bil­ity and mo­bil­ity are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked. Don’t get me wrong – flex­i­bil­ity and mo­bil­ity are not the same thing. Flex­i­bil­ity de­scribes the abil­ity of your joints and mus­cles to go through a range of move­ment, and mo­bil­ity de­scribes your mus­cles ac­tively tak­ing them through that range of move­ment. But the out­come is the same, it’s about your abil­ity to get around and do stuff.

Reg­u­lar stretch­ing is, of course, the key. It doesn’t take long for your range of move­ment to re­duce, par­tic­u­larly if you have a se­den­tary life­style. So make your­self put just five min­utes aside to stretch at the end of each work­out, walk, swim or what­ever.

Don’t for­get that as we age, the col­la­gen struc­ture changes in our con­nec­tive tis­sues, it cross-links and gets in a mess gen­er­ally, short­en­ing and re­duc­ing our range of move­ment in the process, so get stretch­ing into your rou­tine for the long term.

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