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They Told Me I Looked Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, But I Thought That A Bit of a Stretch

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Lets talk stretching:

"If you ever feel like you're on the verge of a nervous breakdown, just follow these simple rules:First, calm down; second, come over and wash my car; third shine all my shoes. There, isn't that better."

Whether you are a weightlifter or not, stretching is an important part of keeping smooth, flexible muscles. After I had been lifting for six months, I discovered I was trading off strength for flexibility. I wanted both. I had started a stretching regimen, but I hated it. Sometimes it seemed that I stretched and just got stiffer. Then one day, I asked a young woman at the gym, who was quite limber, if there was a secret to stretching which I was missing. She explained that lifting was resistance and stretching was submission. A yin yang. A balance. A giving in to oneself. After that stretching became easier and fun. I no longer strained myself to stretch further than was comfortable. I learned to breath with the stretch. I also found that when I put on head phones and listened to Mozarts greatest hits, I went into a euphoric and relaxed place of mind. My flexibility improved and I could feel that agility and strength that I hadn't felt since I was a teenager.

"If there's ever an amusement park called Bag World, I bet it would really start to annoy you after a while how they really sort of stretch the definition of "bag".

In almost all sports, trainers and coaches are seeing the benefit to a good stretching program. Stretching before and after sports workouts is generally a good idea. When I lift, I often stretch between sets. However, you do not have to be an athlete or weightlifter to stretch. If you do sit down work, it is a good idea every once in a while to get up and stretch what's stiff. Easy stretching upon awakening is a good way to prevent pulls and injuries as you go about day to day activities. Or stretch when you feel like it. Notice how often your pet stretches. They even seem to stretch before taking a nap. To help you along I have written a short basic stretch manual. Check it out:



    Side to Side Stretch
    From standing position,knees slightly bent-bend from your hips to the right side-then bend to left side (optional plie-tight tummy).

    Place feet wide apart, with toes at 45 degrees. Squat (keep knees directly over the 45 degree line of the toes). Return to a standing position with the knees slightly "soft" and tighten the buttocks and abdominal mm (muscles)

    Overhead Stretches (Jazz style)
    Reach one arm overhead, alternating right and left arms.

    Cat 'N' Camel
    Get on your hands and knees-Alternate slow arching of the back and neck with slow contractions of the front torso and abdominal area in a rounded position. Hold each position ("cat or camel") for 3-6 seconds.

    Lunge Stretch

    Achilles heel

    Deep Lunge

    Stretches quadriceps (hip flexor) of back leg and hamstring of front leg.

    Use shallow or more narrow stance to stretch calve mm and Achilles tendon
    Reach both arms high overhead, let the arms move down toward your hips as you "release" the back and the neck into a slight arch. Squat. Raise hips (keeping head down). roll-up your back, one vertebrae at a time, to a tall erect stance-tight abdominal mm.

    Buddha Back
    Sit on floor with thighs and knees wide apart and soles of the feet together. (Center-bend over-roll up-round back-center)

    Low Back/Lumbar

    Spinae erector muscles

    Upper Back/Traps

    Sciatica No More
    Lie on your back. Legs are extended straight on the floor.

    Low Back


    External Hip Rotators


Backward Arm Circles

Start small get bigger circles

Energy rain showers

Front Arm Circles

Start small get bigger circles

Hug yourself-upper back stretch

Rotator Cuff (Shoulder)

Rotate arms in shoulder joint

Arms straight out (horizontal)

Chest ("pec") Stretch-Extend chest-lower chin


Large Arm Circles (front and back)

Rotator Cuff

Broom Stick or Towel Stretch-Upper body shoulders and pecs


    Raise shoulders as if shrugging

    Bring shoulders down

    Raise arms overhead

    Press arms down to side

Gymnast Grasp

Overhead stretch (fingers webbed)

Side stretch (grasp elbow)

Rear Delt/Upper Back

Advanced Shoulder Stretch


Quadriceps/Hip Flexor Stretch

Hamstring Stretch (Low back)

Deep Lunge

Shallow Lunge-Calve Stretch

Thigh Abductor Stretch


Upper Back/Rear Delt Stretch

Low Back Stretch


Fore-arm Flexor Stretch

"If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy."

A word about over-stretching. Take care about stretching too long. An easy stretch is any where from 10-30 seconds. After and easy stretch, try to move a little further, feeling mild tension and hold for 10-30 seconds. Stay in control. There should be no pain. If tension does not diminish within a few seconds ease off as needed. Do not hold your breath. If you find yourself doing so, ease up on your stretch. Remember we are not attempting to become rag dolls. We want flexibility and strength.

Holding a stretch too long or bouncing up and down puts a strain on the muscles. What is called the "stretch reflex" goes into play. These methods of stretching cause pain, due to muscle fiber tearing. The injuries lead to scar tissue formation, causing muscles to loose elasticity. Forget the old "no pain, no gain" litany of the past. Stretching should be comfortable and painless. Remember some muscles often won't need as much stretching as others. Learn to listen to your body. It knows when your stiff an need a good stretch.

Thank you again: Deep Thoughts

And if you wish to talk stretching write me at my email address:

gypsy@dreamagic.com (Gypsy)

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