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STRETCHING 101: Bend It Like Beckham

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Does stretching leave ya perplexed? Here are some more tips from personal trainer and Vice President of Iron Girl Judy Molnar. Coach Molnar recommends exercising for 5-10 minutes before starting a stretching routine.

GL: If you're crunched on time, do you still have to stretch?

JM: Time should never be an issue as to not stretch. The golden rule is to always stretch before and after your workout. Build in the time; try to hold each stretch for 10- 30 seconds with at least four reps for that muscle stretch. And remember, you have to stretch both sides. Don't just do one leg. It is important to get the range of movement for the muscles and aid circulation.

GL: Should you stretch out after you finish a big cardio workout?

JM: Stretching is a must as part of your fitness routine. It is important to give your muscles a chance to cool down after such a big workout. Remember not to bounce while stretching and breath as you do each stretch.

GL: What are 5 must-do stretches?

JM: Think which muscle groups you want to stretch for the 5 must-dos, as there are a variety of stretches out there.

For Quads: Standing with something to balance you, grab your ankle and pull toward your bottom.

For Hamstrings: Stand and place your leg up on a chair and lean forward or lay on the floor on your back, legs on ground and then pull one leg up at a time.

For Calves: Stand against a wall and push off to stretch the calf.

For Shoulders: Pull your arm straight across in front of your chest and push it into your chest with your other arm. You can do this stretch standing or seated.

For Triceps: Use your right hand going over your shoulder, bend at elbow. Place it as far down your back as possible. Place your left hand on your right elbow and push backward.

*Repeat the other side.

GL: What's the risk you take if you don't stretch out?

JM: Injury and soreness.

GL: Are the stretches you should do for running different from the ones you should do for, say, gymnastics?

JM: Actually yes, you want to stretch the primary muscles that you are working out. Everyone needs to stretch their major muscle groups, but there are specific stretches important to each athlete. Runners use mostly their lower body during a workout session. But should not forget their shoulders and arms which many runners tense up when running.

GL: Is there a great go-to book on stretching?

JM: My favorite is Stretching by Bob Anderson. It focuses on everyday fitness stretching and provides stretching routines specific to sports. Also it is shows illustrations of each stretch and routine.

2/5/2008 12:06:11 PM
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