Please note that you are strongly advised to consult your GP before undertaking any new exercise programme.
The following programme has been designed by Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs.
Aims of Stretching
The aims of stretching are to gently lengthen muscles before and after exercise, and to improve tissue flexibility. If done correctly, stretching will help prevent injuries and increase athletic performance.
Tips for Stretching
You should always warm up the body prior to stretching to increase blood flow around the body, which in turn will help to make the muscles more supple.
After exercise, slowly bring your heart rate down before you begin stretching to avoid blood pooling within your muscles as this can lead to cramp and dizzy spells.
If after exercise you are wet and sweaty, take a bath or shower before stretching – the hot water will help to relax your muscles and prevent you from catching a chill.
Remember to breathe regularly and rhythmically when stretching - do not hold your breath.
As a rule you should not bounce 'in the stretch'.
You should feel some slight discomfort whilst stretching – if you don't feel anything you should check your position to make sure that you are doing the stretch correctly, if you are doing the stretch correctly it is likely that the muscle has eased off.
Finally, as with any form of exercise you should stop stretching immediately if you feel any severe pain.
Find something stable at about waist height to lean on and take one leg behind with the front leg bent and back leg straight. Check that the back foot points forward in the six o'clock position and lean into the front knee to feel a stretch in the calf. Hold for six seconds, then change legs.
Still holding on for support, lift one foot and hold near the ankle. The knee should point down and the hip on that side should press forward. Keep the knee of the supporting leg slightly bent. Hold for six seconds, then change legs.
Using a stable object at about hip height, lift one leg up. Keeping your back straight, lean forward slightly to feel a stretch in the back of the thigh. Hold for 15 seconds, then change legs.
Inner Thigh Stretch
Using the same object, turn side-on and take one leg on top. Gently bend the trunk toward the raised leg to feel a stretch in the inner thigh. Hold for 10 seconds, then change legs.
Stand with feet apart and place your hands behind you into the small of the back. Now squeeze the shoulder blades together to feel a stretch in the chest. Hold for six seconds.
With thanks to Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs. To learn more, please visit www.rosemaryconley.com