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Stretch Your Way to Well-Being

Flexibility an important part of good health

Stretching helps prevent injury and makes you feel better. But the simple act is often ignored by both elite athletes and amateurs.

According to an article from ABC News, your ability to stretch relates to many factors, including your bone structure, skin elasticity, connective tissues, and your muscles' ability to relax. Women usually are more flexible than men, younger people more so than older people. Time of day is also a factor. People are generally more limber later in the day, as their muscles warm up.

Although stretching is important, it is even more important to do it right to avoid injury. Experts say you shouldn't bounce, despite what you may have been taught in your high school gym class. Bouncing up and down can cause trauma and tearing of the muscles and tendons. Instead, you should move slowly and gently, then hold the position once your muscle is stretched to the end of its range of motion, the article recommends.

Be patient. If you stretch regularly for two weeks, you will begin to see some improvement in your ability to stretch. But don't push it before you are ready.

Try to stretch out at least once a day, even if you don't have time to do any other workout. Stretching will increase the blood flow to your muscles and lubricate your joints. Try to set up a routine and stick with it. The experts recommend you go slowly, particularly at first.

Some people find yoga a good way to get into a stretching routine. Yoga helps not only with flexibility, but also with breathing, posture and mental well-being. To find out more about yoga, you can read this article from Women.com, this one from The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, or this one from the Yoga Site.

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