Spring is almost here and it’s time for lots of outdoor exercise! Since most of us are less active in the winter months, it’s necessary to prepare the body for more activity. Whether your plans involve playing sports such as golf or tennis or enjoying a jog or brisk walk around the neighborhood, stretching is essential to protect your muscles and joints.
Much of the soreness felt after exercising can be avoided simply by stretching before and after strenuous activity.
However, before stretching, warm up your muscles first with 5 or 10 minutes of light walking or cycling. Then begin stretching slowly, holding your stretch for about 15 seconds. Never bounce. You should feel tension in the muscles, but a sharp, sudden pain is a sign that you are going too far. Over-stretching and stretching too quickly will damage muscles, ligaments and joints.
Stretching is not just for the “hard core” athlete. Even if you won’t be diving for a volleyball or sliding into home plate, staying flexible with daily stretches will make mundane activities like yard work and spring-cleaning much easier. Besides reducing the risk of injury, stretches also relieve muscle tension and soreness caused by stress.