Doing regular stretching exercises will make you steadily more elastic, flexible and mobile, and hinder you from getting physically rigid and stiff as you get older. Here are some principles for good stretching exercises:
– Take a thorough stretching session at least every second day. During this session you should stretch out all parts of your body: Your arms, neck, torso, pelvic area and legs.
– It is an old principle to stretch out after other types of training. This principle has been questioned in the last years. If you feel this is the best time to stretch out, then do so. If not, wait until you are less tired and do the stretching as a separate session.
– It is probably best for many to have a short stretching session after muscular training and a longer stretching session at a separate time every second day.
– When stretching out, you should bend or twist in the natural movement directions and movement angles for each body part, and for each body part you should flex in every natural direction.
– It is good to begin the stretching session with some active exercises with moderate stretching effect to make your muscles and joints warm. You swing, bend, twist and roll with your arms, legs, shoulders, torso and pelvic region so that every movement gives a moderate stretching effect.
– Then you do slow exercises with a stronger stretching effect. You swing, bend or twist each limb and your torso until you feel resistance and a little more so that you feel the stretch, and then hold the stretch in 30-50 seconds. You can make this stretching even more effective by doing it together with a friend and helping each other. Repeat each stretch at least 3 times with a pause between.
You can find descriptions of many exact exercises in specific books or web-pages. Classical hatha-yoga-exercises are a type of slow stretching exercises with a profound beneficial effect on the whole body. But you can also use your creativity and compose exercises that specifically fit you, as long as you use the principles listed above, and you can also improvise during each session.
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