Mas­ter class

A sim­ple stretch ben­e­fits the body in com­plex ways.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - MATT PAR­ROTT Matt Par­rott has a doc­tor­ate in ed­u­ca­tion (sport stud­ies) and a mas­ter’s in ki­ne­si­ol­ogy and is cer­ti­fied by the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Sports Medicine. vball­top@aol.com

Flex­i­bil­ity train­ing is al­ways a pop­u­lar topic be­cause most peo­ple rec­og­nize they need more of it. It’s one as­pect of fit­ness that is of­ten bumped down the pri­or­ity list in fa­vor of car­dio­vas­cu­lar or strength train­ing.

This week, I’ll present some ways to weave flex­i­bil­ity train­ing into your rou­tine with­out set­ting off any bore­dom alarms. Plus, I’ll in­tro­duce an ex­er­cise that’s per­fect for sneak­ing a lit­tle ex­tra stretch into your ab­dom­i­nal rou­tine.

Let’s face it, stretch­ing isn’t an ac­tiv­ity that peo­ple are lin­ing up to per­form. It’s a topic that peo­ple know the least about, so the like­li­hood of per­form­ing it in­cor­rectly/ in­ef­fec­tively/painfully def­i­nitely in­creases. Plus, it’s an­other one of those fit­ness ac­tiv­i­ties that takes time be­fore re­sults are re­al­ized.

Rather than fight an up­hill bat­tle and force your­self to per­form a solid 10 min­utes of static stretch­ing (hold­ing a stretch with no move­ment) be­fore a work­out, I like to rec­om­mend “ac­tive stretch­ing.” Ac­tive stretch­ing is a tech­nique that re­quires stretch­ing a mus­cle in be­tween strength train­ing sets for the same mus­cle group.

For ex­am­ple, an ac­tive stretch for the quadri­ceps might be in­cor­po­rated be­tween sets of leg ex­ten­sions. The strength train­ing ac­tiv­ity will en­gage the tar­get mus­cle and the ac­tive stretch will main­tain flex­i­bil­ity in the same tar­get mus­cle.

My ra­tio­nale for rec­om­mend­ing this tech­nique is two-fold. First, you’re go­ing to rest be­tween sets any­way. Rather than sit­ting on the leg ex­ten­sion ma­chine sift­ing through so­cial me­dia, why not keep your mind and body en­gaged with an ac­tiv­ity that is ben­e­fi­cial — while fa­cil­i­tat­ing rest at the same time? Sec­ond, these lit­tle stretch “snacks” can ac­cu­mu­late to pro­vide one with a stash of flex­i­bil­ity min­utes that is truly mean­ing­ful.

This week’s ex­er­cise is a per­fect ad­di­tion to one’s flex­i­bil­ity “snack pack” (see what I did there), as it is eas­ily wo­ven be­tween shoul­der ex­er­cises dur­ing a work­out. The Shoul­der Ex­ten­sion stretch is a unique way to in­cor­po­rate an ac­tive stretch for the an­te­rior del­toid.

1. Sit on an ex­er­cise mat with your knees up and to­gether with your feet flat on the floor.

2. Your hands should be placed be­hind you to sup­port your torso in a slightly re­clined po­si­tion.

3. From here, lift your seat off the floor about 2 inches and slowly move your hips to­ward your an­kles while leav­ing your hands on the floor be­hind you.

4. As you move your hips closer to your an­kles, your shoul­ders will be­gin to ex­tend back­ward — cre­at­ing a great stretch.

5. Move the hips for­ward un­til your shoul­der stretch is slightly un­com­fort­able, hold for 10 sec­onds, then re­turn to the start­ing po­si­tion.

6. Re­peat for five rep­e­ti­tions.

It’s im­por­tant not to take this stretch too far, sim­ply be­cause ex­tend­ing the shoul­der un­der re­sis­tance can place the joint in a com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tion. Just move to a po­si­tion of slight dis­com­fort (not pain), hold, then move back to the start­ing po­si­tion. It’s a cool lit­tle stretch that makes shoul­der train­ing a lit­tle more fun.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY

Amanda Price does the Shoul­der Ex­ten­sion Stretch, mov­ing slowly and tak­ing care not to ask her wrists and shoul­ders to do too much too soon.

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