YOGA TIPS FOR TODAY AND THE FUTURE
To improve and maintain your flexibility, perform stretches that work the major joints at least twice a week.
RIGHT NOW YOU CAN
Stand up and stretch do either the upper-back stretch or the across-the-body stretch shown in the chapter.
Practice the recommended sitting and standing postures described in the chapter. If needed, adjust your chair or find something to use as a footrest.
IN THE FUTURE YOU CAN
Build up your flexibility by incorporating more sophisticated stretching exercises into your routine.
Increase the frequency of your flexibility workouts to five or more days per week.
Increase the efficiency of your workouts by adding stretching exercises to the cool-down period of your endurance or strength workouts.
YOGA TIPS FOR TODAY AND THE FUTURE Photo Gallery
SUMMARY YOGA TIPS
• Flexibility, the ability of a joint to move through its full range of motion, is highly adaptable and specific to each joint.
• Range of motion can be limited by joint structure, muscle inelasticity, and proprioceptor activity.
• Developing flexibility depends on stretching the elastic tissues within muscles regularly and gently until they lengthen. Overstretching can make connective tissue brittle and lead to rupture.
• Signals sent between muscle and tendon nerves and the spinal cord can enhance flexibility.
• The benefits of flexibility include preventing abnormal stresses that lead to joint deterioration and possibly reducing the risk of injuries.
• Stretches should be held for 10-30 seconds and performed with 2-4 repetitions. Flexibility training should be done a minimum of two-three days per week, preferably following activity, when muscles are warm.
• Static stretching is slow and held to the point of mild tension; ballistic stretching, consisting of bouncing stretches, can lead to injury. Dynamic stretching moves joints slowly and fluidly through their range of motions. Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation uses muscle receptors in contracting and relaxing a muscle.
• Passive stretching, using an outside force to move muscles and joints, achieves a greater range of motion (and has a higher injury risk) than active stretching, which uses opposing muscles to initiate a stretch.
• The spinal column consists of vertebrae separated by inter-vertebral disks. It provides structure and support for the body and protects the spinal cord. The core muscles stabilize the spine and transfer force between the upper and lower body.
• Acute back pain can be treated as a soft tissue injury, with cold treatment followed by application of heat (once swelling subsides); prolonged bed rest is not recommended. A variety of treatments have been suggested for chronic back pain, including regular exercise, physical therapy, acupuncture, education, and psychological therapy.
• In addition to good posture, proper body mechanics, and regular physical activity, a program for preventing low-back pain includes exercises that develop flexibility, strength, and endurance in the muscle groups that affect the lower back.
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