5 Key Benefits of Stretching

5 Key Benefits of Stretching

There’s a lot of talk out there about the importance of exercise and maintaining a proper diet to develop good health and fitness – but what about stretching? It may seem like a simple concept, which is why it tends to be overlooked; however, stretching can play an important role in your body’s overall wellness and performance.

Two Types of Stretching to Know

Dynamic stretching – This type of stretching involves a full range of motion to engage all your muscles.

Suggested: Pre-Workout

Some examples include:

  • Walking Lunges
  • Leg Swings
  • Arm Circles

Static stretching – This type of stretching involves holding the muscle in a position to induce lengthening.

Suggested: Post-Workout

A few static stretches include:

  • Quadriceps Stretches
  • Arm and Shoulder Stretches
  • Head Bend

Benefits of Dynamic vs. Static Stretching

It is suggested that dynamic stretching should be done before any workout or performance because it may help “increase muscle temperature and decrease muscle injury.”1 This specific type of stretching could help improve speed, agility and acceleration, and get the body where is needs to be before engaging in a workout. Granted, each person’s body is different, so if you find yourself questioning whether dynamic stretching before an athletic event is right for you, consult your physician.

Static stretching can be good for you post-workout because it can help “dull the nervous system,”2 calm the muscles down and give them a good cool-down. Plus, static stretching usually feels good! You may find yourself doing it midday, just to help loosen up tight muscles.

5 Key Benefits of Stretching

Stretching can help benefit the body in the following ways3:

  1. Improve Posture
  2. Decrease Your Risk of Injuries
  3. Improve Athletic Performance
  4. Improve Joint Range of Motion
  5. Stress Relief4

A Word for the Wise

Ballistic stretching has become a popular topic of conversation as a new form of stretching to add to your routine – but is it safe? While it remains popular among athletes, The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons advises against it for most people. Ballistic stretching consists of “bouncing movements to push your body beyond its normal range of motion.”5 It is not recommended because there is risk of straining or pulling a muscle. This type of stretching can also can damage the soft tissue around the joints, which could potentially develop into tendonitis.6

Want more? Check out our article Stretch Your Potential, Stretch Your Muscles for some added stretching info and tips!

Sources:

  1. Plack, Leigh-Ann. “Stretching Tips for Athletes: Dynamic and Static Stretching.” Hospital for Special Surgery. N.p., 20 Apr. 2011. Web. 20 June 2017.
  2. Boyce, CPT Lee. “Question of the Week: The Benefits of Stretching Exercises.” Men’s Fitness. Men’s Fitness, 17 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 June 2017.
  3. “Stretching: Focus on Flexibility.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 21 Feb. 2017. Web. 20 June 2017.
  4. Inverarity, DO Laura. “7 Stretching Tips From a Physical Therapist.” Verywell. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2017.
  5. Goldman, Rena. “Ballistic Stretching: Is It Safe?” Healthline. Healthline Media, 13 June 2016. Web. 20 June 2017.
  6. Ibid

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I Tore My Meniscus – What Supplements Should I Be Taking? | Q+A

I Tore My Meniscus – What Supplements Should I Be Taking? | Q+A

Question:

I tore my meniscus in March and it is healing. My cartilage is thin on one side. What supplements should I be taking and for how long?

– Barbara H.

Answer:

Barbara, your question intrigued me. Glucosamine chondroitin was the first thing that came to mind for joint health. Glucosamine chondroitin or glucosamine sulfate/chondroitin sulfate is known to stimulate cartilage regeneration, improve joint function and reduce pain. It is generally used for osteoarthritis, the breakdown of the articulate cartilage. A meniscus is a C-shaped pad made of fibrous cartilage that absorbs shock in the knee. Each knee has two menisci. Articular cartilage is present at the end of the femur.

Theoretically knee injuries may benefit from higher levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents and compounds involved in cartilage formation. According to the International Cartilage Repair Society (who knew?), “glucosamine, chondroitin, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) have been the most carefully assessed with considerable amount of scientific and clinical usage data, as well as safety profile.” Suggested beneficial food compounds and supplements also include: olive oil, fish oil (for EPA + DHA), undenatured type II collagen, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), curcumin, flavonoids, and ginger.

For selection and dosing recommendations, be sure to discuss with your physician what treatment is appropriate for you.

References:

Nutraceutical Supplements in the Management and Prevention of Osteoarthritis. P Castrogiovanni, et al. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2016 Dec 6; 17(12): pii E2042

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Member Spotlight | When Life Throws a Curveball

Member Spotlight | When Life Throws a Curveball

At 15-years-old, Julie I., of Irvine, CA, had a brain aneurysm while on a skiing trip with her family. She couldn’t lift her head or swallow. She could hear, but could not speak. Sitting in the hospital room to comfort Julie was her grandmother, Frances. The nurse informed her that her granddaughter would never speak again, and Frances’ reaction to that was hanging a sign on the hospital door that read: If you have something negative to say, don’t come in.

Three years later, not only was Julie able to speak, but she was a graduate of Mater Dei High School.  Getting there, though, wasn’t easy. Doctors recommended putting Julie in an assisted living facility, but her family took her home and went to work, helping teach her how to do various things again. Not only did her family help, but fellow classmates, neighbors and parents of the kids she used to coach in soccer all rallied behind her, calling it Operation Julie.

For years, Julie would wake up, see her wheelchair and vow that by the end of the year she would walk independently again. Year after year she renewed that vow until she was able to walk with the assistance of a walker in 2000. Her strong-mindedness spilled over to all other aspects of her life. She wanted to go to USC, so she made it happen. She had always wanted to rush a sorority, and so she did. She wanted to experience life living in a sorority house, and would you guess – she did.

Julie shared with us how her workouts changed over the years and she became stronger. At first, she said she did mostly floor exercises with her physical therapist, since she had to learn, and train, her body to do things that once came naturally. She did a lot of core strengthening, balancing exercises, learned to sit-up, hold her head up, and countless other activities. Once she attended college, her physical therapy turned to walking practice.

Once Julie graduated from USC, she moved back to her hometown of Irvine, CA, and once again, her workouts changed.  Julie would go to the gym 3-4 days a week and do mostly cardio. When she was on the treadmill she would hold onto the front bars to keep her balance and she had learned how to use the bikes and weights, as well as do floor exercises, from her time spent in physical therapy. Julie explained that she went to the gym religiously for 26 years, improving gradually over time, and that her tremors almost completely disappeared and her flexibility improved.

Julie now trains at LA Fitness in the mornings before work. Her and her dad have even participated in four MS150 Rides, a two-day fundraising bike ride to help raise money for MS (multiple sclerosis), spanning from Newport Beach to San Diego. She has a recumbent three-wheel bike. Now, at 52-years-old, Julie mostly exercises on the bike, stretches and strength trains with weights. Having overcome so much in her lifetime, Julie started a non-profit called SupportAbility, which awards high school seniors who have graduated despite tremendous personal obstacles.

Julie shared, “Thanks to the beautiful, friendly and immaculate gym, hard work and a routine I can write this.” We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this incredible woman. If you would like to donate to SupportAbility, and read more about this non-profit organization, please visit Julie’s website here.

*SupportAbility is not an affiliate of LA Fitness. This link will take you to an outside webpage, and any representations or warranties made therein are made by SupportAbility only, and not by LA Fitness.

Consult with your physician before starting a new fitness regimen.


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Health Advice For Pre-Diabetics | Q+A

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Question:

Hi, I am an LA Fitness Member for more than 10 years. I have a question regarding my health. Just recently I was diagnosed with prediabetes. I do not know how to control my sugar level. What do you think should I eat, how much sugar should I eat everyday, how do I know if I’m having enough sugar in my body? Your feedback would save my life because I am really losing a lot of weight. Thank you.

– Jo

Answer:

Thanks for reaching out, Jo. It’s great that you’re addressing your prediabetes (aka. impaired glucose tolerance) right away.

Though your diagnosis reflects higher than normal blood sugar, it will take balancing ALL your food to manage it. Here’s why: foods have a combination of macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, protein) that all impact blood sugar. Unless they have certain bonds which make them fibers, carbohydrate molecules directly break down into sugar through digestion. So even a sugar-free baked potato will raise blood sugar. The presence of protein and fat in the stomach will somewhat slow the digestion of carbohydrate at the same meal, thus reducing the rate of absorption and subsequent blood sugar rise. Adding sour cream and cheese to the potato will have a desirable blunting effect.

A meal of pasta and marinara is carbohydrate-rich and therefore a blood sugar booster. Reducing portions and adding a couple of meatballs or Parmesan cheese and fibrous broccoli makes for a more balanced meal that is likely to have a milder effect on blood sugar. That’s not to say that if you just load up on fat it will counteract sugar (sorry, ice cream). I’d stick with starches, fruit and fluid milk for the healthiest carbohydrates and avoid refined sugars. There is no minimum need for sugar, only for carbohydrates, and it’s recommended your daily intake is at least 130 grams.

Your take-home message is to avoid added sugars, balance your meals (complex carbohydrate/protein/fat) and increase activity to lower your blood sugar levels.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

LA Fitness Living Healthy subscribe button

Want more? SUBSCRIBE to receive the latest Living Healthy articles right in your inbox!

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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 LA Fitness RDN, Debbie James, helps answer a member question asking if it’s important to watch the foods you eat or simply maintain a calorie deficit.

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Ask A Trainer: Featured Question of the Week

LA Fitness Pro Results® Master Trainer, Geoff F., helps explain the best ways to preserve muscle mass while trying to cut. You may want to cut down on your cardio, find out why by checking out the video below!

Do you have a fitness question? Ask one of our certified Pro Results® trainers here! Your question may be featured in an upcoming Ask Our Trainer video.**

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**Selected submissions will be featured on the LA Fitness blog and possibly other LA Fitness digital media entities & websites. By making a submission, you hereby grant LA Fitness a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable license to use and make copies of the contents of such submission for any purpose and in any medium whatsoever, and you hereby waive and relinquish any copyright or other intellectual property right you may have in the contents of such submission and your right to pursue any claim for LA Fitness’s violation of those intellectual property rights.


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