Fitness Fun Fridays #12

Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, September 26, 2008

Thanks for all the great recommendations everyone. I have ideas now on posting about protein bars, gym etiquette (which is actually very important I think), weight lifting for teenagers, and much more. I now have ideas on top of ideas, so this is awesome. Sometimes maybe I forget just how much knowledge is crammed in this brain, so thanks for rattling it a bit :)

Anyways... today is something very important for health, and movement. In school they always liked to say "Movement is Life", so we're going to talk about something that is responsible for helping your move effectively. This is something that is kind of a pain in the butt to do, and it's not for the lazy, but it takes only about 5 minutes, maybe twice a day. This is stretching.

I know. It's uncomfortable, it's boring, it feels really, really weird, and you hate it. I'll be honest, it's not one of my favorite things to do either. I would much rather just lift weights in my cupcake t-shirt, do my cardio, and then peace out cubscout. But, I'd be doing my body a huge disservice. Here's why...

Our bodies are adaptable to stress, and by stress I mean certain conditions. For example, if you walk around without shoes alot, you'll get callouses. The same thing works for getting stronger, getting more fit... and getting more flexible. Muscles are lengthened and shortened due to postures that we do based on habit... and the more often you are in a certain posture, the more often a muscle will change to accommodate that. Confused? Let's take a look at sitting...

Take a seat... and look at your lower body. Your hips are bent, your knees are bent, and your feet may be on the ground. So in this posture (which Americans are in through most of the day), we have shortened muscles (hip flexors, hamstrings, lower back) and lengthened muscles (quads, glutes, abdominals). This is an important idea to grasp, because the more times you put a muscles in a shortened position, the more able it is to becomes 'tight'. Ever feel stiff when you first get up from a chair or bed? Your muscles changed to shape for that certain posture. Once you get up and move, it's not so bad, right? So, what's the common sense thing to do? Move. Our ability to move keeps us healthy. Stretch out the tight muscles.

Stretching is a great thing to do once your muscles are already warmed up, due to increased blood flow to the area, and thus being more elastic in nature. Try doing these stretches for at least 20 seconds, and up to about 30 seconds, twice on each side of your body.

Here's some that EVERYONE can adapt to their routine... taken from this great slide show
I would personally do all of these stretches, but if you can't due to time constraints or whatever, make sure you stretch... remember 2 sets each side, 30 second hold. Why 30 seconds? Well your muscles have stretch receptors in them, and they need to hold a position for at least 15 seconds to relax themselves and the receptors. It's like a game of tug o' war... and you have to let your muscle say "ok I give, dude". So a quick 10 second hold is too short. So, anyways... at least stretch your:
Hip Flexors, Hamstrings, Lower Back and Calves

I stress these muscle groups the most, because they are what I commonly see as tight on people... Here's a quick story, real quik... a story about Mr. Backpain

Mr. B hurt his back by picking up a newspaper in the morning. He bent over, and with a grunt, noticed something didn't feel right. He felt a sharp pain that felt like he "pulled a muscle" on his way back up from bending over. He's done this everyday for like 20 years... so what gives?

Well, it could be a number of things, but if Mr. B has pulled his back out, and it's nothing too serious, it could be due to his hips. Whoa, whoa... his hips? Yup.

Well if you have a tight muscle, and muscles cross joints... you then have joints that aren't moving too easily, right? So your body is going to do the next best thing it can do... move a different joint, a little more. It's like the lazy kid in class, and the straight A student doing a class project together (any straight Aer's here?) Donald the Dork doesn't want to fail, so he has to make up the work that Lazy Larry has to do so they can pass.

So what I'm stressing is that if you have inflexibility somewhere, another joint and muscle may have to move more to compensate... and that's how injuries can happen. What do you think of that? Kinda cool. So um... stretching is good for you because it balances you out. Oh here's a cool stat for the statistic heads out there... 57% of your flexibility is due to genetics, and 43% is due to daily activities. Ever wonder why some people are just more flexible? Well they have different genes than you :)

Alright that's about enough for today, because I've rambled on a little now. I even went a little chiropractic on everyone. That's what happens when you have one of the coolest jobs ever. I mean it's close to professional ice cream tester... or blog reader, or cartoonist.
Quik
moving

Comments (23)

wow, my mom always told me to stretch when i woke up and i always asked why. she told me it would make me grow taller. but now i know that stretching is a key point to staying healthy. thank you :)

I still think Ice cream tester is cooler, since I'm one, lol!
You know, I'm in the quick 10 seconds club, but now after the lovely Donald and Larry story, I'm inspired to do some streching!
You rather lift weights in your cupcake tshirt, ahahah?! I really must find you a man's cupcake shirt or maybe a tie... Althought a tie wouldn't be the best thing to take to the gym...
Gym etiquette sounds like fun!

Stretching is seriously the best thing ever - I've GREATLY improved my flexibility (a must for being a dancer!!), and feel better when I stretch as well.

Hooray for another fabulous FFF (whoa, major alliteration there, haha)!!

There is a book called "Is your cat too fat?" and in it a big warning sign for overweight cats is not stretching. For some reason this struck a cord in me. Why do most people not naturally stretch when getting up out of chairs or from lying down? Since reading this years ago I try and stretch like a cat: always after getting up and periodically all throughout the day. Ok, now you all know I'm going to turn into a crazy cat lady some day. :)

Adam, you're so cute. I came back so that you could torture me with more guilt about not exercising enough. But actually I have alot of faith in the stretching. I have Fibromyalgia. I had it diagnosed 12 years ago. And one of the MOST IMPORTANT things I need to do everyday upon waking is to stretch my muscles so that I can reduce the pain. So I totally agree with you. There, you didn't make me feel so guilty this week. Good job as always kiddo.

Stretching is so important! I never used to stretch before going to the gym (well.. the 3 times i went last year) and the next day I didn't want to get out of bed.

What is it like to be a chiropracter? Do you treat people with muscle and bone injuries and help with recovery? I'm sure all your patients love you because you're so cool!

Thanks for the 30 second tip - I've just recently stopped 'bouncing' between my stretches. You should talk about that - I see a lot of bouncers at the gym.

Ice cream testing is pretty cool, but I think Willy Wonka has the most amazing job EVER.

Hi Adam, what an informative article! The more I read, the more I realized, I have NEVER stretched EVER!! :-( No wonder I am feeling so stiff everywhere everytime. I sit slouched on a sofa/ bean bag with my laptop and stand in the kitchen while cooking, have a back hunch, and walk in and around the house, and sleep on the bed. That is ALL I do. Your articles are making me feel guilty, and my lazy bones are just not budging. I guess I am in for a 'break-down' soon? I HATE exercising/stretching:-(

Hi Adam, what an informative article! The more I read, the more I realized, I have NEVER stretched EVER!! :-( No wonder I am feeling so stiff everywhere everytime. I sit slouched on a sofa/ bean bag with my laptop and stand in the kitchen while cooking, have a back hunch, and walk in and around the house, and sleep on the bed. That is ALL I do. Your articles are making me feel guilty, and my lazy bones are just not budging. I guess I am in for a 'break-down' soon? I HATE exercising/stretching:-(

Thank you again for all this great information. Love the stretch slide. I need to be reminded because I have had some overuse running injuries. That is what happens when training for a marathon :)

Love your Frydays, really this is so good to me I feel when I m a lot at PC my back suffer!! I have to see this again, xxxxGloria

This was needed bc I *know* I should stretch and I just don't make enough time for it. If you saw my posture at my desk, you would be repulsed...REVOLTED. And this is coming from someone who fractured lumbars 1-4. Sick, huh?

Yeah I agree the stretch slide is very informative. The lower back one is a tough one on me as the more I stretch the more intensity I feel but yet in the end it feels better. So, I pray I'm not doing more harm than good.
I had nooooo idea that 57% of my flexibility is genetic. Does that mean I'll inherit my fathers' side of the familys lower back problems? Or if I stay fit I will lessen; the latter right? duh.

So when do you start cracking backs? Will you wear one of those white coats? LOL

I do believe that you bring joy into my life when you say things like "I would much rather just lift weights in my cupcake t-shirt."

Thanks for this week's FFF because I need more info on hips and backs and things.

Whoa-ho! To be a professional blog reader? That would be boss. But chiropractic sounds like a much mroe fulfilling thing.

so hard. i know i should stretch... i just get bored. but you're totally on point about the inflexibility one place causing other issues. see you on the mat!

Maple syrup in hummus? Interesting, I wouldn't have thought of that. I do remember Elf - 'I love smiling, smiling's the best!' Your crackers look great!

alright, very nicely written post (maple syrup comment and all) and interesting dip. good job.

Nice try on your crackers. First time on your blog here, and looks amazing.

I stretch at the gym sometimes a little too much just to avoid getting back to my workout... :-\

Really interesting. I just did all the stretches. Thanks for the link. I was streching for 15 secs but now, after reading this, I did 30 secs. Makes sense.

I know I have to stretch, but I always try to avoid it. THanks for the reminder and for another great post. Now I need to catch up with your delicious baking :D

yeah I love yoga and pilates and I hate lifting weights so I think I have the stretching part of the workout taken care of. If I don't do my sun salutations in I just don;t feel right. Plus I never sit a a dest I lounge on the couch when on the computer.

yeah I love yoga and pilates and I hate lifting weights so I think I have the stretching part of the workout taken care of. If I don't do my sun salutations in I just don;t feel right. Plus I never sit a a dest I lounge on the couch when on the computer.