Friday, May 29, 2009

Stretching and the Warm up

Are You Confused?

Lately, I've been receiving a lot of questions referring to the latest studies and research findings, and one question that I receive most queries about concerns the role that stretching plays as part of the warm up.

Currently, there seems to be a lot of confusion about how and when stretching should be used as part of the warm up, and some people are under the impression that stretching should be avoided altogether.

This is a very important issue and needs to be clarified immediately. The rest of this article is dedicated to dispelling some common myths and misconceptions about stretching and its' role as part of the warm up.

What has Science got to say?
Most of the studies I've reviewed attempt to determine the effects of stretching on injury prevention. This is a mistake in itself and shows a lack of understanding as to how stretching is used as part of an injury prevention program and the warm up.

Stretching and its effect on physical performance and injury prevention is something that just can't be measured scientifically. Sure you can measure the effect of stretching on flexibility with simple tests like the "Sit and Reach" test, but then to determine how that affects athletic performance or injury susceptibility is near impossible.

One of the more recent studies on stretching supports this view by concluding;

"Due to the paucity, heterogeneity and poor quality of the available studies no definitive conclusions can be drawn as to the value of stretching for reducing the risk of exercise-related injury." (The efficacy of stretching for prevention of exercise-related injury: a systematic review of the literature, 2003, Weldon)

To put the above quote in layman's terms; there hasn't been enough studies done and the studies that have been done are not specific or consistent enough. For the most comprehensive assessment and conclusion of research done on the affects of stretching I suggest you have a read through the following article, The Truth about Stretching.

The Greatest Misconception
Confusion about what stretching accomplishes, as part of the warm up, is causing many to abandon stretching altogether. The key to understanding the role stretching plays can be found in the previous sentence. But, you have to read it carefully.

Stretching, as part of the warm up!

Here's the key: Stretching is a critical part of the warm up, but stretching is NOT the warm up.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that doing a few stretches constitutes a warm up. An effective warm up has a number of very important key elements, which work together to minimize the likelihood of sports injury and prepare the individual for physical activity.

Identifying the components of an effective and safe warm up, and executing them in the correct order is critical. Remember, stretching is only one part of an effective warm up and its' place in the warm up routine is specific and dependent on the other components.

The four key elements that should be included to ensure an effective and complete warm up are:

  1. The general warm up
    This phase of the warm up consists of 5 to 15 minutes of light physical activity. The aim here is to elevate the heart rate and respiratory rate, increase blood flow and increase muscle temperature.
  2. Static stretching
    Next, 5 to 15 minutes of gentle static stretching should be used to gradually lengthen all the major muscle groups and associated tendons of the body.
  3. The sports specific warm up
    During this phase of the warm up, 10 to 15 minutes of sport specific drills and exercises should be used to prepare the athlete for the specific demands of their chosen sport.
  4. Dynamic stretching
    Dynamic stretching involves a controlled, soft bounce or swinging motion to force a particular body part past its usual range of movement. The force of the bounce or swing is gradually increased but should never become radical or uncontrolled.

Please note; dynamic stretching carries with it a high risk of injury if used incorrectly. Dynamic stretching is more for muscular conditioning than flexibility and is really only suited for professional, well trained, highly conditioned athletes. Dynamic stretching should only be used after a high level of general flexibility has been established.

All four parts are equally important and any one part should not be neglected or thought of as not necessary. All four elements work together to bring the body and mind to a physical peak, ensuring the athlete is prepared for the activity to come.

So what conclusions can we make?
Stretching is beneficial, when used correctly. However, as with most activities there are rules and guidelines to ensure that they are safe, and stretching is no exception. Stretching can be extremely dangerous and harmful if used incorrectly.

Remember, stretching is just one very important component that assists to reduce the risk of injury and improve athletic performance. The best results are achieved when stretching is used in combination with other injury reduction techniques and conditioning exercises.

Stretching HandbookStretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don't make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won't be effective.

For an easy-to-use, quick reference guide of 135 clear photographs of every possible stretching exercise, for every major muscle group in your body, get a copy of The Stretching Handbook. You'll also learn the benefits of flexibility; the rules for safe stretching; and how to stretch properly. Click here to learn more about The Stretching Handbook.

Copyright © 2008 The Stretching Institute™
Article by Brad Walker. Brad is a leading stretching and
sports injury consultant with nearly 20 years experience
in the health and fitness industry. For more free articles
on stretching, flexibility and sports injury, subscribe to
The Stretching & Sports Injury Report by visiting
The Stretching Institute.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Time Management Strategies - Revitalize Enthusiasm and Productivity Using the 3 Gratitude Exercises

Time management tips that inspire you to renew and deepen your gratitude also energize you, every single time you open your heart. If you really want to experience new zest, learn how to genuinely appreciate and care for your life, starting right now.

Cultivating the gift of gratitude is a powerful way to ground yourself and prepare yourself for any challenge. Gratitude enhances healthy humility that is based in self-respect. It also helps you assess your strengths and redirect your energy. The following reflections provide a fresh window of understanding to your inner powerhouse.

Finding Time for Gratitude - 5 Central Insights.

Gratitude's 3 Gifts to You.

Gratitude immediately enriches your life in 3 ways:

- How you look at your world,
- How you move through your days, and
- How you experience your moments.

It is a fundamental value, and the ultimate way to make full use of your time. In "Character Strengths and Virtues" by Christopher Peterson and Martin E. P. Seligman, gratitude is defined as "an enduring thankfulness that is sustained across situations and over time."

There are two types of gratitude, personal and transpersonal.

Personal gratitude is about thankfulness towards an individual, whereas transpersonal gratitude is a constant and fundamental appreciation of the world.

Gratitude is a very special gift to children.

According to studies, gratitude develops between 7 and 10 years of age. However, I believe that if a child is raised in an environment of appreciation, both specific and general, and if it is spoken about often and consistently, gratitude will begin to develop at an earlier age. At the very least, the child will be surrounded by positive energy.

Experience and express appreciation to others specifically and frequently.

How many times a day do you actively thank someone? And how often do you feel the energy of awe and wonder? Don't deprive yourself or others of this wonderful, free gift that strengthens relationships!

As an informative exercise, jot down each time you feel grateful for anything.

After 3 or 4 weeks, go over your documentation and identify patterns in your gratitude. Are there days when you are so absorbed in the activities of daily living that you "forget" life's gifts? What does this tell you? What happens to your energy? Do you habitually see the glass as "half empty" or "half full"?

There is a simple and wonderful exercise I've practiced for many years. It was reinforced in the Vanguard Authentic Happiness Coaching Course I participated in several years ago.

Enjoy the "3 Gratitudes" Exercise!

Each night, right before sleep, list at least 3 gratitudes you are aware of for that day. These blessings can be anything you notice and appreciate.

Recently, I asked a client if she was continuing her nightly gratitudes. She vigorously nodded. "It keeps me positive," she responded.

And it does. It helps you maintain enthusiasm, even in challenging times. Soon it becomes automatic to appreciate your moments.

Now ask yourself: How can you generate still more gratitude today by finding more time?

To take your next step, sign up for our free gift, "The New Finding Time Boundary Template: 9 Simple, Sequential Steps to Find More Time and Recharge Your Energy!" at

This time template will help you move beyond overwhelm, disappointment, and frustration. Using a workbook format, with room to record your answers, you will discover that 24 hours really are enough!

And for even more time thoughts and techniques, visit our blog at

Offered by Paula Eder, Ph.D. The Time Finder Expert.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Open up your heart - with music

Playing or listening to music can create a feeling of well being, which affects the vascular system.

-- If you didn't catch the white coat and the stethoscope, you might take Dr. Mike Miller for a middle-aged rocker, roaming the halls of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Playing or listening to music can create a feeling of well being, which affects the vascular system.

For years, Miller, a research cardiologist, has been studying the effects of happiness -- or things that make people happy -- on our hearts. He began his research with laughter, and found watching funny movies and laughing at them could actually open up blood vessels, allowing blood to circulate more freely.

Miller thought, if laughter can do that, why not music? So, he tested the effects of music on the cardiovascular system. "Turns out music may be one of the best de-stressors -- either by playing or even listening to music," said Miller. ... more

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Do your goals have enough gravity?

Big goals are not only more fun and exciting; they carry more weight than small ones. Ambitious, serious, “weighty goals” have attraction power.

They attract others into the process and magnetize ideas and resources. Big goals pull you along. They pull you through the difficult times and help you remain diligent. They inspire you to greater innovation and effective action.

Article continues

10 easy ways to increase your gas mileage

Yesterday, I stopped to fill up at a local BP station where I shelled out $3.99 a gallon to fill ‘er up. Just down the road, the same grade was over $4.00. I drive an older model Ford Taurus, and it costs about $70.00 for a full tank. In my house, we have a full size Chevrolet Silverado which cost approximately $100.00 to fill and gets a measly 15 mpg in the city. My daughter’s car, a Chevy Malibu, probably gets the best gas mileage out of the three; she can go over 230 miles on a full tank. Not great, but better than the Silverado and the Taurus.

It seems like every day gas prices are going up with no real reason for the increase, and while there are quite a few fuel-efficient vehicles on the market, not everyone can afford to buy a new Toyota Prius or a fancy Hybrid. I did some research and found the Automotive Oil Change Association recently offered up a few recommendations to help us get the most out of our mileage. If you can’t car-pool or take mass transit, the AOCA offers the following tips and tricks:

Friday, May 08, 2009

How to become an expert in your field in ten books or less!

You can't polish sandshoes! The only way to achieve a high gloss sheen on a pair of shoes is to start with quality shoes. The same applies for expertise. You can't manufacture a GURU!

Experts are created through quality thought. They are not just manufactured through marketing.

Here is a useful five step thinking process for developing expertise.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

8 Small Changes You Can Make to Save an Extra $100 This Month

The Authors of “The Power of Small” Share a Few Small Tips That Can Add Up to Big Savings

Let’s face it. Right now, times are tough and we’re all looking for little ways to save in our day to day routines. Although saving an extra $100 a month sounds like a lofty goal in an economic climate where every penny counts, we know it’s easier than you think. As the authors of the new book, THE POWER OF SMALL: Why Little Things Make All the Difference, we’ve made a valuable discovery. The secret to attaining your biggest goals is to take one tiny step at a time.

Instead of making one big change, such as cancelling your cable or giving up eating in restaurants entirely, we believe that these painless modifications to your current spending patterns will help you easily net that extra $1200 a year.

So, how can you get started? Try out these eight tips to save an extra hundred bucks this month:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Just 5 Weeks to a Slimmer YOU

We all have the best intentions when it comes to losing weight.
This time, it's going to be different. After all our past attempts,
we have finally learned every lesson the hard way. This time, we
are going to stay on track, lose that extra weight, and keep it off
for good.

Be honest with yourself- you've gone through this before. You've
given yourself this pep talk every time you plan another weight
loss battle.

Maybe you've even kick- started your motivation by planning a diet
and joining a gym. You've learned to examine everything on the menu
and find the most health- conscious choice. You'll definitely order
it next time, but today, you'll make the occasional splurge.

You bought new workout clothes, and found a way to squeeze a gym
routine into your already packed schedule. You'll start that
routine as soon as the rest of your life settles down a little bit,
or when you're feeling better.

You have the best intentions, you really do, but losing this weight
is always harder than you remembered. But you still want to lose
the weight and get in shape, it's just that you just can't make it
your first priority in every single social or professional

As you keep trying to lose the weight, you've gotten better at it,
too. You've learned how to take off those first few pounds, and
keep them off for quite a while.

You've been going to the gym or working out at home regularly, and
you're feeling energized. You're even beginning to see results from
all of your work outs.

After keeping up this routine for a few weeks, or maybe even a
couple of months, your weight loss goals seem more attainable than
ever. You're doing so well, that you deserve a break.

You decide to take it easy, just for a few days, a week at the
most. You revert to some of your old eating habits, and you skip
the workouts. Before you know it, you're right back to where you

What does it take to really lose the weight forever? You have all
of the information you need, you have access to every diet and
workout plan imaginable, and you can find a weight loss expert on
every TV channel, website, and in every bookstore, so weight loss
success should be easy and attainable for everyone.

What all of these plans fail to recognize is that you need guidance
to get you through the long haul. It's easy to stay motivated in
the beginning, before the demands of the weight loss process start
to take their toll.

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