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Stretch your way to better joint health

April 13, 2011|By Loa Blasucci

When it comes to exercise, it seems most of the focus is put on calorie burning. Everyone wants to be thinner and, in this crazy high-calorie world we live in, it certainly makes sense. High-calorie foods are everywhere, and often we hope the junky composition of our favorite comfort food won’t put too much “junk in the trunk.”

But, there is much more to feeling good than losing pounds. Yes, we need cardio exercise — it’s good for weight loss, lung function, metabolism and even your mood — but let’s not overlook the benefits that come from mobility work, as in deep stretching and range-of-motion exercises.

Let’s aspire to live pain free, walk with a youthful stride and move with ease. In order to achieve this, your joints must be free to move. Every joint in your body is held in place with strong and pliable connective tissue. It is beautifully complex, and if you could see up close what’s surrounding and protecting your knees, shoulders, elbows, ankles and other joints, you’d be be both amazed and grateful. There’s connective tissue holding your joints in place and synovial fluid within the joints to cushion and lubricate your movements. Wow, you even came with shock absorbers!

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Staying hydrated, eating well and wearing good shoes are central to caring for your joints. For more information on selecting good shoes, go to my website, bit.ly/i70Aah, and read “Put Your Best Shoe Forward.” Also important is the gentle practice of “using” your joints. The most efficient way to improve your flexibility and range of motion is to practice movement through deep stretching.

As most of us sit day after day at the computer, shoulders shrugged as we type, knees bent as we sit, the spine settles and joints compress due to lack of motion. The tissue, tendons and ligaments that hold your joints in place can shorten and tighten from not being used enough. Let’s just say it can take the “swag” our of your “swagger.“

Not only does deep stretching feel great and release body tension, but it also changes the way you move. Whether it’s a forward fold to touch your toes, reaching behind your back to clasp your hands or one of hundreds of stress-relieving flexibility moves, hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds and breathe deeply; this allows any tightness or tension to “exit the building.”

Deep stretching is one of the most important things you can do to manage your long-term mobility and joint health. The more you move, THE MORE YOU MOVE.

I’ll see you in two weeks.

Love & health,

Loa
 
 

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