In today's December 11, 2009 newsletter . . .

  • Stretching and Relaxation

  • Does High-Impact Exercise Cause Joint Damage?

Stretching and Relaxation

In the early days of muscle book publishing, Bob Hoffman used to write in Strength & Health magazine about a balanced lifestyle. He referenced the ancient Greeks and the philosophy of moderation in all things. One of the S&H tenets of good health was what he termed the "maintenance of a tranquil mind."

With Christmas shopping, holiday parties, travel, and so forth upon us, tranquility is not the easiest state of mind to maintain. Yet we all know that we are better off if we set aside some time each day to relax our mind and body.

Even brief periods of the practice of something like Tai Chi or the stretching poses of Yoga or Qi Gong can provide the calming of rushed and hurried minds.

Stretching has two primary purposes. The first is to increase or retain flexibility and range of motion. The second is to relax your mind and body following a workout or to take a break from stressful activity. Many trainees shortchange themselves by not taking time to stretch and relax after workouts. I think that is a mistake. Five or 10 minutes invested in calming your mind and body after a workout is time well spent.

Here are my thoughts on stretching:

  • You do not need to be a contortionist to reap the benefits of stretching. In fact, striving for “loose joints” may increase the chances of injury in some athletics.

  • Practice dynamic or static stretching. To simplify those terms, dynamic stretching means there is more movement involved, such as in Tai Chi, Pilates, and some forms of Yoga. Static stretching refers to the stretch-and-hold types, as in most Yoga practices.

  • The third form, ballistic stretching, is characterized by rapid and sometimes jerky or bouncy movements. It is not appropriate following a workout cooling off period or to calm jangled nerves.

There are many good ways of stretching and relaxing your mind. The stretches I choose are a mixture of movements I’ve learned through weight training, martial arts, and Qi Gong. Whatever type you prefer, the following is sound advice . . .

Do not force your stretching. Relax into a stretch. That means go only to the edge of discomfort. Then back off just a bit and hold there for a moment, allowing your body to relax. Be soft. By not forcing yourself to go further, your muscles will relax and you will find that you can — softly — move further into your stretch than you thought possible. Now hold 10 or 15 seconds.

Calm your mind and relax your muscles by focusing on your breathing, by softly inhaling and exhaling from deep within. It is your time to slow that revved-up engine.

For more stretching and relaxation information, go here.

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Does High-Impact Exercise Cause Joint Damage?

The debate about high-impact exercise bringing on osteoarthritis continues. I am a former long distance jogger/runner. Yet I am on the side that says some types of running are too much of a good thing.

My opinion is based mostly on personal observation. You can find studies to back up your argument, either way. I've read plenty of them. What I see, though, is far too many senior long-distance runners with achy joints and who look older than their years. My own advice is to exercise until the end of your days. But be smart about it.

There are plenty of ways to get cardiovascular exercise without pounding your joints to death.

See article from Science Daily here.

You've probably heard about the tremendous benefits of weight training and how you can retain -- or even reclaim -- the attributes of youth . . . Discover the way with . . .

Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to our subscribers. Our purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

Always consult with your physician before making dietary changes or starting an exercise program.

Your comments or questions are always appreciated.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter