If you love slow paced workout, where you can relax and breathe deeply, then you might want to consider stretches. Doing stretches not only is a lot of fun, because you can relax into each stretch, but also gets the blood to flow to the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles while increasing the supply of nutrients, while improving posture, flexibility, strength and range of motion. As the body lengthens into the stretch, you can also feel it breaking through the muscle resistance. Consistent stretch practice elongates and tones the targeted muscle group. It is also a test of patience, because unlike fast workouts, stretches are very slow and take longer to do. So one must set aside the needed time for this routine.
These are some things to consider before embarking on stretching routines. Stretches should not be done when the muscles are cold. For example, if you have been sitting for long periods of time or if you just got out of bed. The risk of muscle cramp or tear is high if stretches are done without adequate warm up. Stretching also releases the toxin build up in the muscles. Drinking plenty of water helps flush the toxins out of the system faster. Stretching must be done slowly without jerks. Jerky movement can cause injury especially if the muscles are tight. Breathe into every stretch and make sure you are not holding your breath or tensing other parts of the body. Slow and steady is the way to go.
Our legs take all of the body weight. So it is important to tone and strengthen the leg muscles. The stronger the legs the fitter we can stay even in our old age. There are a number of muscles in the legs. Some of the most common ones that need stretching as they tend to tighten up are the calves, the hamstrings and the quadriceps. Calf Muscles are on the backs of your lower legs. The calves help flex your leg and your foot. Hamstrings run along the back of your thigh. These muscles allow you to extend your legs straight back and to bend your knees. Quadriceps are in the front part of your thigh. The quadriceps help extend the knee and flex the thigh. Other important part of the legs that let you bend and twist are your hips, knees and ankles. All of these parts should be involved in the stretch to build strength and flexibility.
Martial artists, gymnasts and athletes use leg stretchers, a simple machine to gradually stretch these key muscles. Leg stretchers are available for purchase online and in-store fitness equipment retailers. The simplest and most affordable leg stretchers utilize a metal tripod and are priced under $50. Most enhanced versions with built-in seats or electric motors can cost hundreds of dollars.
If you are not sure that stretching is your thing, there is no need to buy any equipment. There are other ways to stretch those legs; by just using the body weight and a yoga mat. Get your mat, warm up a little and look forward to this short stretching routine.
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