Summertime Stretches For The Outdoor Enthusiast
Those eagerly awaited summer days are beckoning outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. Whether you are a green thumb or an outdoor adventure or recreation enthusiast, it is important to remember some basics of back care prior to exerting your muscles and joints.
News for green thumbs
Gardening does not have to be a pain in the back. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the fruits of your labors during this upcoming season:
- Stretch before you head out. Take the time to prepare your body for activity and always warm up and cool down your muscles.
- Bend your knees to lift with ease. Keep heavy loads such as potting soil close to your body, your back straight and bend your knees while picking up and putting down loads.
- Use the right moves and the right tools. Alternate your tasks, kneel to plant and weed, change positions frequently, pace yourself and always make sure that gardening tools are a comfortable weight and size for you.
- Take a break before it aches. Get up, move around, alternate tasks, repeat your stretch routine or sit back, relax and have a cool drink.
Outdoor adventurer tips
You may also want to get your body geared up for outdoor activities such as soccer, hiking, climbing, tennis or golf. If you are a parent of a young sports enthusiast, it is equally important to help them prepare for outdoor activities.
These training tips will help to prepare for spring and summer sports:
- Warm up your muscles before exercise. Proper warm up and stretching will help prevent injuries and strains on muscles and joints.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after physical activity to ensure proper hydration.
- Proper nutrition is essential. A good, balanced breakfast and eating a healthy snack or meal before and after activity provides proper nutrient replenishment and refuels the body.
- Ensure you are getting plenty of rest. Eight to ten hours of sleep is essential for feeling our best. Lack of proper rest can catch up with all of us and decrease energy and performance—not to mention increase the chances of injury.
Outdoor activities are a great way to stay healthy and connect with your family and friends! Whether you choose to play a sport, bike, hike or walk around the local trails.
There’s nothing quite like getting your daily dose of cardio in the great outdoors, but do you make sure to stretch before your preferred activities? Better yet, is it even necessary to stretch before activities?
The idea that stretching is unnecessary is a common misconception that must be corrected. it is important to prepare your body by stretching first!
Think of your muscles like a rubber band. If you take a rubber band out of the freezer, it will most likely snap if you try to stretch it quickly. However, if you use a rubber band which has already been warmed up, it will perform the task without an incident. Our muscles act quite similarly!
Muscles work best when warmed up; this promotes blood flow, decreases stiffness, increases range of motion and helps to prevent injuries such as strains, tears, and ruptures.
Some of the most commonly performed stretches include:
Sitting down, stretch your legs out in front of you while keeping your back flat and upright. Bend your left leg while keeping your left foot flat on the floor. Slowly reach forward and try to touch your right toe with both hands. Bend from your waist keeping your lower back flat and your head up. Repeat for the other leg.
Stand an arm’s length away from a wall with your feet shoulder width apart. Place your right foot about 2 feet in front of your left. Keeping both heels flat on the ground, lean towards the wall by bending your right knee. Your left leg should stay straight. Push gently against the wall for a deeper stretch. Repeat for the left leg.
Side Hamstring Stretch
Stand with your feet about 2 meters apart, toes pointing forward. Gradually shift your weight to your right leg by bending your right knee while the left leg stays straight. Place both hands on your right knee for support. You can increase the starting distance between your feet for a greater stretch.
Side Body Stretch
Stand with your feet firm on the ground raise your arms above your head. With arms straight, gently grab your right wrist with your left hand. Use your left hand to pull your right arm up and over as you bend your body to the left. You should feel a stretch though the shoulder and right rib cage. Repeat on the other side, switching hands and using the right hand to pull the left arm up and over.
This is great for anyone with low back stiffness. Lie on your back, bring your knees up to your chest. Spread your arms wide, perpendicular to you body as if you were making the letter “T” with your body. Gently drop your bent knees to one side, turning your head to look in the opposite direction of your knees. You can use a pillow or blanket to support your knees. Repeat on other side.
Standing, bring your arms behind your back and clasp your hands, grab onto one of your wrists or use a towel to hold onto with both hands behind your back. Take a deep breath in and drop your head back, look up. Push your chest forward and pull your shoulders back and down. Bring your head up and then release your arms.
Each type of stretch should be held two times for thirty seconds each. Make sure not to bounce but slowly ease in and out of each motion, ensuring that you breathe throughout each stretch. Make sure to stretch where you feel a mild to moderate pull from your muscles. You should never stretch into or through any painful ranges, as this may only further increase your chance of injury.
Gardening, sports and other outdoor activities can do wonders for your health, but if you don’t take care and stretch your body before spending time crouching, bending, running etc, you can become very stiff, sore, or injure yourself. Spend 5-10 minutes doing these stretches before you head out to play in the great outdoors. Elongating your muscles, bringing blood flow to your body, and life to your limbs will make a world of difference!