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Stretching Techniques

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For safety, never stretch a cold muscle. It
should take you no more than ten minutes to finish a full body
stretching program. Stretching is used to enhance your range of motion
and prevent injuries. Most girls can outstretch guys. Don't compare
yourself to your cheerleader daughter who can touch her heels to the
back of her head.Those who stretch every day can maintain a high
degree of flexibility. A multitude of factors can affect your
flexibility. On warm days you can touch your toes; on cooler days you
barely reach your knees. You can hold your stretch more comfortably in
the afternoon than in the morning. Thirty years ago we bounced through
our stretches. Bounce (ballistic) stretching can cause micro-tears in
the muscles. Ten years later instructors emphasized slow and gentle
lengthening of muscles. Another decade and proprioceptive neuromuscular
facilitation (PNF) was in vogue.PNF, a technique where you flex a
muscle moments before you stretch it, continues to be widely used today
to stretch every skeletal muscle in the body. A new program called
active-isolated (AI) stretching is also fashionable. AI stretching
dictates that you contract the opposing muscle group moments before you
stretch. Both PNF and AI allow the muscle and connective tissue to
relax and lengthen. To loosen up your lower back, flex your abdominals
first; then hold your back stretch for two seconds. To stretch your
calf muscles, flex the muscles on your shins moments prior to
stretching your calves. You can use your SportCord to help you achieve
a deeper stretch. To begin, choose some of the stretches below.Perform
the following AI stretches by contracting the opposite muscle group
moments before holding the suggested stretch for ten to thirty seconds.
A slow, continuous lengthening is desired. Gracefully elongate your
muscle until you feel tension. Then relax. Go for comfort. Settle into
your pose. Exhale as you move into each position. Learn to hold your
stretch at least ten seconds in order to fully relax the muscle. Add
two seconds a week until you work up to thirty seconds. Within months
you may stretch to a slight level of discomfort but never approaching
pain.Side Leg Stretch:
Your supporting foot remains flat while you extend your other leg to
the side. Flex your outer thigh for three seconds. Relax. Then stretch
your inner thigh until you feel tautness. Hold the stretch for no
longer than thirty seconds. Repeat with the other leg. Do just one
repetition of each stretch.Side Split:
Spread your legs out as far as possible. Flex your hips and thighs for
three seconds. Relax. Let your weight nudge you down until you feel
pressure in your inner thighs. Hold for up to thirty seconds.Side Split, Toes Up, Chest to Floor:
Attempt a side split. Then lift your toes. Flex your thighs and hips
for three seconds. Relax. Slowly bring your chest toward the floor.
When you feel tension, hold for up to thirty seconds.Front Split, Forehead to Shin:
From the front split position, flex your front thigh and the muscles in
the front of your shin by pulling your toes back for three seconds.
Relax. Then point your toes, pull your chest toward your knee and your
forehead toward your shin. Maintain a flat back. When you feel light
pressure, hold for up to thirty seconds. Repeat with the other legForehead to Toes:
Sit with your back flat and the bottoms of your feet together. Pull
your feet in as close to your groin as possible. Grab your toes. Flex
your inner thighs for three seconds. Relax. Slowly bring your chest
toward your toes and hold for up to thirty seconds.Butterfly:
From the forehead to toes position, grab your ankles and push your
knees toward the floor with your elbows. Hold for up to thirty seconds.
PNF Stretching with a partner can help you achieve optimum flexibility.
Relax the muscle you intend to stretch. Then your partner pulls you
slowly into a perfect pose. When you feel tension in that muscle
instruct your partner to stop. Flex that muscle group for three seconds
against your partner's resistance. Then your partner attempts to pull
just a little further. He draws you once again to the point of tension,
hold, and then relax. Be easy on your partner during PNF.PNF Hamstring Floor Stretch:
Lie on your back with your heels flat against the floor and both knees
slightly bent. Press the back of your heels into the floor and hold for
three seconds. Relax. Let your partner grab your right ankle and slowly
lift it. When you feel tension, instruct your partner to stop. Pull
from your right hamstring and press the back of your heel toward the
floor while your partner resists for three seconds. Relax and repeat
with your left leg.PNF Hip Floor Stretch:
Lie on your stomach with your knees slightly bent. Flex the front of
your thighs by pressing them towards the floor. Hold for three seconds.
Relax. Let your partner grab your right ankle and slowly lift it until
you feel tension. Be sure the toes on your right foot point down. When
you feel tension, remind your partner to stop. For three seconds pull
from your hip toward the floor while your partner resists. Relax and
repeat with your left leg.PNF Inner Thigh Floor Stretch:
Sit facing each other and spread your legs in a straddle position as
far as possible. Flex your thighs and hips for three seconds. Relax.
Place your feet against your partner's and push lightly until both of
you feel a maximum stretch. Hold for up to thirty seconds.PNF Hip Flexor Floor Stretch:
Lie on your back with both knees slightly bent. Grab the bottoms of
your feet with your hands and flex the muscles of your thighs and hips.
Relax. Bend your right knee and let your partner push it toward the
floor. Keep your left knee straight. Hold for up to thirty seconds,
then repeat with your left leg.

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