Stretching properly increases flexibility, prevents injury, helps you recover, and builds lean muscle. Stretching improperly can lead to hyperextention, pulled muscles, and muscular imbalances. We Ninjas want to make sure we are treating our bodies with the utmost care and respect, and doing everything we can to ensure our long-term physical health. Let’s take a look at some common stretching mistakes so that we can recognize and prevent them in the future.
1) Not warming up before you stretch
This one still comes as a surprise to some people, who have been told for a long time that stretching before your workout is essential. However, doing static stretches with cold muscles actually INCREASES, your chance of injury instead of decreasing it. Warming up your muscles with active, dynamic movements is always a good idea before a workout, and also before you stretch.
2) Pushing yourself too hard
Stretching should never cause you unpleasant pain. Yes, sometimes we interpret the signals we are receiving from a deep stretch as “painful” in a way, but there is a difference between the pleasant pain of a good massage and the unpleasant pain of someone pinching you. If a stretch causes you the latter type of pain, back off. Check your form, don’t stretch as deep, or find an alternative stretch.
3) Practicing improper form
A common stretching mistake we see a lot is people rounding their backs while stretching. In many seated stretches, for example, you want to keep your back flat and your gaze forward while leaning over. Think bellybutton to quads rather than nose to knees. Other common mistakes include hip and knee placements. if you’re unsure about body positioning, or even if you think you’re doing it right, don’t be afraid to ask one of our Skyhook coaches to check your form!
4) Holding your breath
We see this one all the time. Most of the time people have no idea they’re doing it. It’s very tempting to hold your breath while stretching. It can make the motion seem a lot easier. But in addition to restricting oxygen flow, holding your breath can also cause muscle tension that you aren’t aware of. Practicing slow, steady breaths while stretching increases circulation, releases tension, and expands range of motion. It also helps train you to breath consistently no matter what you’re doing!
5) Stretching an injured muscle too soon
Injured muscles are frustrating, especially for active people with a lot of fitness goals and obstacles to tackle. It can be tempting to stretch out your injured muscles to try to “fix” them. But right after an injury the best thing you can do for that injury is to let it rest. Don’t foam roll or stretch the day after an injury. In two or three days you can start to do some light stretching and movement, but keep it gentle and brief. Deep stretching may make the injury worse and increase healing time.
6) Rushing or skipping your post work-out stretches
Look, we get it. You just pushed yourself through a tough set and you’re eager to be done with your physical routine for the day. But it’s important to remember that stretching after you work out is always a good use of your time. We want our bodies to be in the best shape possible, and to stay happy, healthy, and active. Stretching is an essential part of keeping your muscles and joints healthy and limber, and to prevent injury. Remember to hold each static stretch for 15-20 seconds. You’ve worked your body hard, it deserves this!
2017 is drawing to an end, signaling a time of reflection and evaluation for many of us. We think back over our activities of the past year, tallying the accomplishments and the hardships. We think about who we’ve been and who we want to be – the obstacles we want to tackle (both mental and physical), and we begin to set rules and goals for ourselves in the coming year. We have a clean slate after all, and there is so much we want to accomplish. But we sometimes find that, despite our best efforts, keeping those resolutions can be more difficult than we initially anticipated. But changing your lifestyle for the better is far from impossible, and in order to help you get started here are some tips for choosing and keeping resolutions that are best for you.
1) Start with something simple
Often we’re tempted to use the end-of-year reset button to try to instate sweeping changes in our lives. But apart from being jarring, making these changes is sometimes impractical. For example, going from not exercising at all to implementing a rigorous workout routine 5 days a week might not be sustainable. This doesn’t mean it’s not okay to have big goals and ideas, but building up to the bigger goals on a strong foundation of little accomplishments will reward you with better results than trying to make radical life changes out of nowhere. Major life improvements can often come from small, simple changes.
2) Choose goals that fit into your schedule
You want your new resolutions to compliment your existing lifestyle, not fight with it. When setting your intentions consider how they will fir into your current agenda. Don’t limit yourself, but do be practical.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask for support
Make your family and friends aware of the goals you are setting, and ask them to support you while you make changes. You may find that some of them even want to join you, and you’ll have a new buddy with whom to exercise more or quit smoking!
4) Make a change you enjoy
Give something new and fun a try! Join a new gym, find a club of like-minded people, meet up with others who are genuinely passionate about what they do. Discipline is an important and respectable part of your resolutions, but it can’t replace the effectiveness of finding something for which you have a real passion.
5) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
So some of your resolutions may not work, or stick. Don’t let this stop you from giving them a try! And if you mess up and cheat of your diet or skip a gym session, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just keep going. Maybe you took a week off….that doesn’t mean you can’t pick back up after that week. And maybe some of your resolutions don’t work out at all. That’s okay too. You’ve learned something about yourself and can try another angle that works better. That’s the beauty of fresh starts – they can happen any time and there are so many options to choose from. The possibilities are endless.
We don’t have to tell you how much a good exercise routine can do for you. Staying active plays a huge role in keeping our bodies and our minds healthy, happy, and functioning appropriately. However, the unfortunate truth is that sometimes we get hurt by the very actions we take to keep ourselves in good shape. Joint problems are one of the most common issues that athletes and people with rigorous exercise routines face. Many of us know all too well that joint issues can arise as a result of performing repetitive motions over a period of time. Rock climbing, gymnastics, and Ninja Fitness are no exceptions to this phenomenon.
The good news is, there are simple steps you can take to help prevent joint issues from forming or becoming worse. And when done properly, exercise can actually help with existing joint problems. Below you’ll find a few simple tips for protecting yourself when excercising.
1. ALWAYS do a warm-up and cool-down.
Making sure your muscles and joints are ready to get into the action is an absolutely essential factor in preventing injury. A 5-10 minute warm up can make all the difference in how your muscles respond during your workout. Likewise, you don’t want to shock your muscles by just stopping their use abruptly. And try to remember to save the deep stretching for after you work out, not before.
2. Strengthen the muscles that support your joints
Our joints have to deal with a lot. Our knees in particular face daily stress (especially the ladies, whose skeletal construction can cause knee problems to form more often). One way of alleviating this stress is to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint that ails you. Strengthening the quads, for example, is a great way to take a little bit of pressure off your knees.
3. Don’t be afraid to substitute low-impact workouts
There seems to be a tendency to shy away from low impact workouts, but there’s no reason to! You can still get in a great set without any jumping or tumbling. Substituting biking for running and working against your own muscles during a low impact set will still get you sweating up a storm!
4. Make sure you are doing exercises properly.
Improper exercise is one of the most common reasons for injuries and imbalances. Many of us may have never learned little tips, like to never let our knees extend past our feet during squats and lunges. If you have questions about how to perform an exercise, ask a qualified coach or instructor to check your form.
5. If it hurts, STOP!
Your body is the best indicator of whether or not something is working for you. If a specific exercise causes you pain or doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to do it! There are a multitude of ways to work different muscle groups. It’s better to find an alternative exercise than to push yourself to do one that could cause you to injure yourself.
Well, Portland, it’s getting colder. And with the chilly weather comes the desire to slow down, curl up on a comfy piece of furniture, and eat holiday cookies. And let’s face it, going the the gym and exercising gets…harder. So what can you do to keep yourself active when all you really want to do is stay home and pack on an extra layer of insulation? We’ve compiled a list of little tricks that can help you motivate yourself to keep moving.
1. Start with a warmup.
The thought of doing a whole workout can be daunting. You may be feeling sluggish or just lazy and your body just doesn’t want to get moving. But a little bit of movement is a lot better than none, and it can be much easier to commit yourself to a quick five minute burst rather than a whole routine. The great thing about this is after you break that initial barrier and get moving you’ll most likely be ready to tackle a whole workout!
2. Move your routine indoors.
It’s cold outside. It might be windy or snowing, or raining, and your regularly scheduled run or bike ride just doesn’t sound like something you’re up for. Instead of ditching the action all together, find a more hospitable place to exercise. If the roads are too sketchy and you can’t make it in to your gym, there are tons of free workout videos available online that can keep you active!
3. Get a workout buddy!
Share the culpability! Having someone who helps push you can make all the difference in keeping with a workout routine. So grab a buddy and get moving!
4. Remind yourself how good you feel after you work out.
It sounds really simple, and it is! Remembering that rush of energy and sense of accomplishment that you get after working out can be enough to give you that extra push you need to start your routine.
5. Find a workout that you genuinely enjoy!
Find a workout that you genuinely enjoy! There are times when it can be difficult to get yourself to do ANY kind of exercise, sure. But if you take no joy in your exercise routine it might be time to switch it up. Finding a fun, effective workout such as gymnastics, rock climbing, or Ninja Fitness can help keep you motivated, and even get you excited to go to the gym! Why not let your workout be your escape?
Have your own workout tricks for getting yourself moving when you’re feeling lazy? Let us know about them in the comments!