warm up

Five Stretches You Shouldn’t Live Without!

…and sometimes – it is that simple!

Flexibility and “warming up” are two of the most highly underrated fitness principles around. Sure, many people warm up before an intense workout, but what about the rest of your day? As soon as you wake up – what has your body been doing for the last several hours? Lying still.

As soon as you step foot out of bed you begin placing demands on your body to lift, bend, and hustle around to keep up with your day. Start your day with a bit of injury prevention and increased blood flow, and you might be amazed at how it makes you feel.

Start from the ground up!

Plantar Fasciitis and other foot issues can make stepping out of bed painful or challenging due to the foot being in a pointed position through much of the night. Try flexing the foot up towards you and holding for 20 seconds 3-5x/foot. This can be done by sitting on floor and using a towel to pull the upper foot toward you. Or sit on your heels with shins and feet flexed under you. Sit back on your heels for the same amount of time. If you have a step nearby, you can also let your heels hang off of it like you would a calf stretch. All these movements bring your toes closer to your shin in a flexed position, stretching the foot fascia, and helping you get ready for the day!

The World’s Greatest Stretch??

We didn’t name it, but with a name like that it has some serious expectations to live up to, and it does a decent job! This awakens all the major muscle of the body. Hold each position for a few seconds and perform 3 movement patterns per side. This stretch is great to utilize throughout the day since it also stretches out the main muscles affected by sitting for long periods of time!

Watch the video to see what the buzz is about!

Wake up your spine!

The Cat/Cow Stretch can help relieve tension in your spine, morning or night, by opening it up and decompressing vertebrae. Set up in a quadruped position (all-fours: wrists under shoulders, knees under hips) and inhale while gently moving the chest/belly toward the floor so the spine is in extension. Exhale as you press into your hands, tuck the tailbone under, pull the chin toward the chest and round the back upward allowing the shoulder blades to move apart. Perform 10 reps or as many as you have time for.

You’ve got a litte tension in the those shoulders…

Wake up the spine and shoulders in the morning by simply standing and standing tall & reaching the arms overhead as if trying to reach the ceiling. Then work into a reverse shoulder stretch – clasping the arms behind you and lifting hands gently toward the ceiling near your edge and hold for 20 seconds.

Get off my back already!

Several statistical analyses have put the number of Americans suffering from chronic back pain above 10%. Our spine is the root of basically all movement, so we are driving home the importance of maintaining mobility and joint health in your back!

The Cobra stretch awakens the body with full extension of the spine, neck, shoulders, and chest. Lay on the floor, belly down. Place your hands under your shoulders, press into the floor, and lift the chest. Keep the abdominal muscles turned on, and draw the inner thighs towards each other to avoid hinging at the low back.

Watch the video for a demonstration!

True or False: Stretching before Exercise Reduces Injury

A myth is defined by Webster as : a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon an untrue explanation for a natural phenomenon. Stretching before exercise to reduce injury is one of those myths.

Historically, it has been generally accepted that stretching decreases the risk of injury. This myth is based on the idea that pre-exercise stretching reduces the risk of injury through improvements in range of motion and blood flow, better proprioception and decreased stiffness in the muscle (Fredette, 2001). 
The fact that authority figures (e.g., coaches and sports medicine doctors) have long practiced pre-exercise stretching for lowering injury risk is likely the reason it has been so widely accepted as standard practice. However, researchers began to more closely scrutinize the evidence supporting this. Recently, Witvrouw and colleagues (2004) concluded that pre-exercise stretching has no beneficial effect on injury prevention for activities such as cycling, jogging and swimming. Also, in a current review (McHugh and Cosgrave, 2010), the general consensus was that stretching in addition to aerobic warm-up does not affect the incidence of overuse injuries.
Does this mean stretching has no impact on risk of injury? Absolutely not! In fact, it has been reported that stretching at other times, including post exercise and in the evening, can reduce injury risk. At Ellipse Fitness we do what we call a RAMP prior to our workouts. RAMP stands for Range of Motion, Activation and Movement Preparation. We work on movement patterns that we’ll be doing that day in effort to prepare the body for the workout.  We also suggest foam rolling prior to a workout, however we strongly suggest, in the essence of not wasting time, that our members save the stretches for AFTER their workout, when the muscles are warmed up and ready for the TRUE BENEFIT that stretching provides.
The Bottom Line: Stretching before exercise DOES NOT reduce the risk of injury