As well as helping to avoid walking and trail running strains and injuries, stretching fifteen minutes a day can have a significant effect on your general well-being. It will free your body from muscular tension, improve circulation and enhance muscle tone. Stretching now will also help you avoid some of the aspects of ageing, such as decreased flexibility, poor balance and stiff joints. Best of all, stretching makes you feel good. How flexible you are depends on several factors; genes, gender, age and your level of physical activity. Some people are naturally more flexible than others, and as you grow older you will gradually lose flexibility.
||[caption id="attachment_834" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Hamstring stretch"]Quads stretch
Muscles respond best to stretching when they are warm. A warm-up is any continuous movement that increases your body's core temperature, such as going up and down the stairs a few times. You can even stretch after a warm bath or shower. The most effective method is static stretching as the risk of injury is low. It involves holding a joint in a position that stretches the muscle and connecting tissues to their greatest length. Make sure that you stretch only to the point of tension and not to pain. Start each stretch slowly and gently and exhale as you do so. You should hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds; do not bounce or jerk as this increases your chances of injury. Breathe naturally as you hold the stretch; do not hold your breath. Whatever activity you do, fit in a stretching session afterwards - even if it means performing stretches in the shower. Try to spend at least fifteen minutes a day stretching. After only a few weeks you'll be able to see the difference. Guaranteed.