Stretching for warm-up and flexibility
Now that you have made the commitment to take charge of your health and give diabetes the boot, let’s get busy with a routine I use, with good results. Each day before I begin, and after my exercise program is completed I do what is called static and dynamic stretching for about 5 -7 minutes. Depending on the level of your physical condition you might want to spend more or less time at this. I find that as I get older I need to stretch for longer periods. I also do light stretching between sets of resistance exercises to keep limber.
Benefits of stretching
Stretching will enhance your range of motion, help in preventing injuries, improve your balance and increase blood flow. This is very important for diabetics. It can be a way to relieve cramps you might get from sitting in one position for a long time, such as long distance driving or sitting in front of the old boob tube.
Timing and the types of stretches are important. From experience I find that stretching certain muscles can be counter-productive. By this I mean that you can weaken a muscle by stretching it too long or stretching a muscle you plan on exercising that day. For example, if you plan to exercise your legs then stretch them after you have finished doing your leg workout. If you stretch them before they will not be as strong.
My exercise routine actually begins from the night before when I put in my mind that I will be performing certain exercises the next day. I visualize myself doing them. Studies have shown that this can improve your level of performance. I even picture the clothes I will be wearing. I also put a time limit on the amount of activity and where I will be doing it. You would be surprised at how this gets you motivated to take action the next day.
Ideally, you should stretch before you start exercising but you don’t necessarily have to wait until you are exercising to stretch. By this I mean you can stretch at any time during the day. Have you ever noticed a dog or cat stretch? They usually do this after getting up from a nap or sitting for a long time. We should do the same thing albeit in a more organized fashion.
Types of stretching
There are three main types of stretching we can do. They are:
- Static stretches
- Dynamic stretching
Static stretches are performed by holding the stretched position for 15 to 30 seconds. I recommend doing static stretches each day. It should be done gently with no excessive bouncing. Also try to do these after you are finished your workout.
Ballistic stretching is done with quick movements such as bouncing when you do toe touches or doing trunk twists. I don’t recommend this type stretching since it could lead to injuries especially if done incorrectly.
Dynamic stretches are like ballistic stretching except that there is no bouncing. If you watched the 2012 Olympics you might have noticed Michael Phelps and the other Olympic swimmers doing dynamic stretches before the start of their race. It is usually done before competition since it increases the blood flow to the muscles. Again this is very important for diabetics as it will help to reduce cramps and that tingling sensation you get in your hands and feet.
How to do stretches
I like to do my stretches by working down my body. By this I mean starting with my neck and working down to my feet. I do neck twist by turning my neck from left to right, pausing at the center for a moment. I also do head tilts by trying to touch my shoulders with my ears. The movement for both of these stretches is left – center – right – center. I do these using static stretches.
Next I do back, shoulder and chest stretches followed by trunk twist and side stretches. For my legs I do the hamstrings (the back of my legs) and quadriceps (front thighs muscles). These are followed by calf and ankle stretches, and toe flexes.
When performed correctly, stretching will increase your flexibility and improve your performance. Do them consistently and properly and you will begin to notice how toned and fluid you move.
To a healthier you,