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Eastern Express Nutrition and Training Tips.
Talking Turkey for Athletes 11/16/2016 Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN, CSSD
Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without turkey. Although, if you are like me, you enjoy turkey all through the year. Turkey is a great protein choice for swimmers. A small 3-ounce portion has 21 grams of high quality, complete protein, is low in saturated fats, and contains vitamins and minerals. Twenty grams of protein is the amount recommended for athletes for recovery and snacks. And, while many athletes think they can only get the anabolic amino acid, leucine, in protein powders or shakes, turkey is a good source of this amino acid to help stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
A few facts to break through the confusion about turkey:
All turkeys sold in the U.S. are free of hormones and steroids, so no need to pay more for one that claims it doesn’t contain hormones for growth of the bird.
Turkey won’t cause you to be sleepy, as in the dreaded “turkey coma.” The idea that turkey causes drowsiness started when we learned about the amino acid, tryptophan, a brain calming compound. All meat contains tryptophan, so turkey won’t make you any sleepier than eating a burger.
Deep-fried turkey isn’t higher in fat than a roasted bird….IF, you make sure the oil is at a high temperature before frying the bird (usually 375 to 400 F°, depending on the fryer). If the temperature is too low, the oil will saturate the meat, making it greasy and increasing fat).
Some turkeys have added saline solution which increases the sodium content of the bird. For a 3-ounce portion, that amounts to about 70-milligrams of sodium more than in a fresh turkey (or about .03 teaspoons of sodium), so not much more than those without added solutions.
Fresh turkeys are good, but may cost more than frozen.
Dark meat contains more iron and other minerals than breast meat, so mix it up and a have a bit of both.
Turkey is a versatile protein for swimmers. Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal, but don’t overlook these other ways to include turkey:
Ground turkey burgers, sliders, meatloaf, and meatballs
And, my favorite, turkey breast wraps with dried cranberries and arugula
How To Set Up for Success at a Big Meet 6/23/2015 By Russell Mark//National Team High Performance Consultant
With championship season for the US National Team right around the corner, it’s hard not to think about what has made the best US athletes so successful over all these years. Having the fortunate vantage point of being integrated with the US team at competitions, here’s three observations from the last three Olympic Games and four World Championships that you can use as you get ready for your own end-of-summer meet.
1. Be your own best coach. Your coach’s presence, advice, and feedback is certainly a huge plus at the most important meet of the year, but you need to be able to operate and succeed without them. At the minimum, know what to do on your own for warm-up and warm-down. But also be prepared to know how the race might play out in your heat, or what your focus cues should be for each race. The most successful Olympians can be independent and take care of themselves. A coach can support them, but may not be available either so you need to be prepared either way.
2. Have a plan, but be adaptable. You can’t be prepared for every possible situation, but you can do your best to do so and be prepared to adapt. Go into your meet with a general plan, but don’t sweat it if you need to be flexible. What if you hit traffic on the way to the pool? Or warm-up closes early and you don’t get to do starts? Or your cap, goggles, and suit break? Or you can’t eat your favorite pre-race meal? Or you can’t find your coach? Like I said, you can’t stress about every single scenario, but you can take a deep breath and figure it out so you can still perform your very best.
3. Be lazy away from the pool. Travel meets with your friends are always exciting and you have so much energy from taper. But use that energy wisely when you’re away from the pool. That doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in your room and stay in bed all day. Stay positive and entertained, but take the elevator instead of the stairs, or watch a movie instead of going to the beach or the mall. The Worlds and Olympic team members enjoy each other and the new countries, but also know when to take care of themselves in order to take care of business.
If you are a serious athlete and have big dreams to go far in this sport, then there's one thing that I can promise you will always be in your future, right between you and those big dreams: FAILURE.
That’s right, failure, along with its emotional co-pilots, frustration and disappointment.
What do I mean by this? The road that you must follow to finally reach your BIG swimming goals will frequently pass through this unpleasant experience with all its uncomfortable emotions. There is really no other way to go from today to your dreams without any number of disappointing setbacks.
Most swimmers may understand this intellectually. They may know that failures ultimately make us stronger and serve as motivational fuel to get us working even harder. They may even get that within every setback you have, you'll find valuable information for what you did wrong, either before and/or during your race, and therefore what you need to change to be more successful. In this way, each disappointing race you have, has within it, the seeds to faster swims.
The problem, however, is that far too many swimmers get emotionally hijacked by their frustration, discouragement and disappointment that always come with a bad meet.
You know the drill: You work hard all season, putting your heart and soul into your training, not to mention your blood, sweat and tears. You go to your taper meet with great excitement and expectations, and then your times are mediocre at best. The resultant frustration and disappointment become overwhelming and you forget that these periodic setbacks and tough losses are a natural part of your journey.
Instead, you start bumming BIG TIME and begin to emotionally beat yourself up. You tell yourself your season was a complete failure, and that you wasted all that great training. You totally lose your perspective and believe that everyone else had a great meet and only you swam like crap, and therefore, you must suck. This self-attacking, emotional response to your failure and disappointment only feeds your discouragement, kills your motivation and does a serious number on your self-confidence! But most important, by beating yourself up and getting mired in your disappointment and self-directed anger, you are temporarily blinded to the real opportunity that this setback can offer you to improve as a swimmer!
HOW CHAMPIONS HANDLE FAILURE:
Successful athletes in and out of the pool respond to their disappointing meets and failures like you! They get bummed and feel the disappointment. They aren't happy with the poor showing. However, they quickly put aside these emotions and get curious. They ask themselves, “What did I do that didn't work?” and “What do I need to do differently next time?” In this way, they use their failures to help them maintain a “growth headset.” To a champion, failures are mainly opportunities to get valuable feedback, learn about their mistakes and take another positive step forward as an athlete towards their goals.
This is the mindset that you must adopt in relation to those disappointing taper meets! It's OK to be upset and bummed. However, very quickly you must put the frustration and disappointment aside and start looking for the things that you did wrong and what you need to do differently for next time.
Remember: FAILURE IS FEEDBACK AND FEEDBACK IS THE BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS!
Competing at a Distance: Nutrition Tips for Long Distance Travel By Jill Castle, MS, RDN
It’s that time of year when many swimmers will be traveling to compete. Long distance travel can wreak havoc on a swimmer’s body and dampen his or her competitiveness. From the availability of less than healthy food options to cramped seats, the choices made during travel can ready the swimmer for athletic performance or it can undermine months of hard work. Focus on the following areas to be ready and able to compete when arriving at your destination:
Bring Along Food
No matter how far the swimmer travels, or the mode, taking nutritious food along will better ensure proper eating and prevention of hunger. Flight provisions, such as small servings of peanuts, pretzels or crackers, generally won’t be adequate for the competitive swimmer. On the other hand, mindlessly grazing on food—even healthy food-- throughout travel can result in overeating. Try to eat food at usual times and bring along activities to prevent boredom like a deck of cards, a book, movies, or music. Energy bars, trail mix, whole grain cookies, fruits, and veggies are all good options to bring along. Keep any food that requires refrigeration safe by storing it in a small igloo or lunch pack.
If meals are available on a long flight, choose the carbohydrate-rich vegetarian option, which will likely be a rice or pasta-based meal. You may need to request this ahead of time, so double check with the airline. If travel is by bus, the food options may be limited to fast food establishments. In this case, opt for whole grain breads, salads with protein, hearty soups and breakfast options with eggs, potatoes or breads.
Stay on Top of Fluid
Flying is naturally dehydrating. The humidity on an airplane can be 10-15%, which encourages more water evaporation from the skin and lungs. This type of dehydration is subtle and may cause headaches or constipation. Water is by far the best option for a beverage, along with an occasional 100% fruit juice or a sports drink. Drink at least a cup of fluid each hour. Bring a water bottle and ask for a refill from the flight attendant as needed. Remember: go through security with an empty water bottle and purchase water near your gate. Avoid Painful Muscle Cramps
Swimmers may feel cramped on a flight, as the seats are compact and legroom may be minimal. It may also be difficult to get up and move around. Get an aisle seat if possible and make sure to store extra baggage overhead to optimize legroom. Get up, walk around and stretch every hour or so to minimize cramping and encourage blood flow. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. If cramping is a problem, be sure to drink fluids with electrolytes such as a sports drink, or drink water and eat salty carbohydrate foods like pretzels or crackers. Cut Constipation
Many travelers experience gas, bloating and constipation. Everybody’s “system” is different, but long distance travel can certainly encourage constipation. The antidote: eat high fiber foods (fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans) and keep up with fluids. If constipation becomes an issue, try natural remedies such as prunes or prune juice, apricot or pear nectar, or celery. Get Some Sleep
Sleeping on a plane can be very challenging. However, swimmers are better able to adjust their body clock to a new time zone if they can get some sleep during travel. Use noise-reducing earplugs, eye covers and a pillow—these will help reduce distractions and promote sleep. Try to eat a high carbohydrate snack, such as a granola bar, dry cereal or whole grain crackers before snoozing to increase brain serotonin, which encourages sleep.
These strategies will help the swimmer be ready to compete when arriving at his or her destination, no matter how far they have traveled. With a little forethought and planning, swimmers can journey with confidence!
5 Strategies to Help Picky Swimmers Eat Better 5/17/2016 by Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Samantha had a disdain for many protein foods, and it was becoming a problem. She had to take “her food” to travel meets, had a short list of restaurants where she could eat, and sometimes skipped lunch at school because she “didn’t like it.” She also didn’t care for most fruits and vegetables, and somehow got everyone around her to meet her picky eating requirements.
Let’s face it, picky swimmers are a challenge to feed and fuel.
While picky eating has been traditionally associated with toddlers, more recently, a growing number of older kids are demonstrating picky eating that may hamper their health.
For the swimmer, picky eating can interfere with getting enough calories, protein and key vitamins and minerals in the diet, which may hinder their athletic performance and slow their growth and development.
So what can be done? Of course, the goal is to help the picky swimmer branch out with a variety of food and ensure his nutrient needs are met, no matter how picky he or she is.
Here are 5 strategies that may help:
1. Provide balanced meals and snacks, including as many food groups as possible. Food groups ensure important nutrients, such as iron, vitamin D, and B vitamins are in sufficient supply from the diet. If the swimmer is eliminating a food group, such as vegetables or dairy, consider a multivitamin supplement providing 100% of the RDA to bridge the nutrient gaps.
Did you know? While macronutrients (i.e., carbs, protein) fuel performance, micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are key factors in normal metabolism, immunity, growth, and more. All nutrients are essential to the success of a swimmer.
2. Keep offering a variety of foods, even though the swimmer may not eat everything. Picky swimmers don’t learn to become “un-picky” unless they are provided with opportunities to experience and explore a variety of foods. Offer a blend of familiar and novel foods at mealtime to help encourage the swimmer to try new options.
Did you know? Research tells us that it may take up to 15 or more exposures – seeing, smelling, tasting, and eating new food – before kids develop a liking or preference for it. Unfortunately, parents typically give up offering new food after four rejections.
3. Drop the pressure to eat. Nagging or reminding the swimmer to eat, whether it’s to eat more food or healthier foods, may be interpreted as undue pressure, especially if the swimmer is a picky eater. Picky eaters do best with low pressure when it comes to food; high pressure (nagging, bribing, constant reminding, etc.) can be a turn-off and curtail progress.
Did you know? While reminding and encouraging your swimmer to eat better may seem effective, research tells us that when it comes to picky eaters, it may backfire, causing less interest in food, reduced appetite, and more pickiness.
4. Don’t cater to food preferences. It’s common to want to provide the picky swimmer with the foods he will eat. After all, training is grueling and swimmers need to eat. Negotiating the menu in the older child is necessary to define acceptable, balanced meals that not only nourish and satisfy the swimmer, but also expand his food repertoire.
Did you know? Narrowing the menu to what the swimmer will eat shortchanges nutrition and doesn’t help the swimmer grow out of picky eating. Plus, short-order cooking is a lot of work for parents.
5. Consider outside help. Swimmers who want to do their best should eat a variety of food and strive to meet their nutritional needs. All swimmers can benefit from an understanding of food, nutrition and sport, which may motivate them to work harder on eating a nutritious diet, while other swimmers may need more support. If a swimmer is clearly missing nutrients in his diet, is underweight, or demonstrates sensitivity to certain aspects of food (texture, flavor, smell), meeting with a nutrition professional can be helpful.
Did you know? Picky eating which impairs overall health and growth does not typically resolve on its own.
Swimmers like Samantha can overcome picky eating. It takes nutrition education and a strategic plan for progressively introducing new foods without compromising the training diet. Include some positive reinforcement and the picky swimmer may be molded into an adventurous eater.
Avoid the Biggest Mental Mistake Swimmers Make 9/10/2014 By Dr. Alan Goldberg//Competitivedge.com
The secret to swimming fast under BIG meet pressure is simple to understand and yet so much harder to do: You have to learn to stay physically loose and mentally composed behind the blocks before your races. If you allow yourself to get too nervous pre-race, your muscles will get too tight for you to swim to your potential. What's the biggest cause of out-of-control, pre-race nervousness? FOCUSING ON THINGS THAT YOU CAN'T DIRECTLY CONTROL! Swimmers who go into their events thinking about and/or focusing on these “UCs” or UNCONTROLLABLES will always lose their confidence and get derailed by runaway nerves.
Sandy qualified for Nationals for the very first time in her life, a dream come true! Initially she was thrilled and so proud to be able to compete in this meet, being one of a select few from her club who was going. However, as the date of the meet crept closer, her excitement slowly began to morph into worry and then outright fear. No matter what she tried, she couldn't stop herself from thinking about the other “unbelievably fast” swimmers who would be there. As she entertained these thoughts, and shared them with teammates, her self-confidence started to crumble. By the time she got to the meet, she was filled with a sense of dread, looking like a deer caught in the headlights. She couldn't seem to stop focusing on how good some of these athletes were. They were swimmers whom she had been reading about in the swim magazines over the years, and here she was going to race against them? I don't think so! What she really wanted to do was get their autographs and then get out of there!
She was a nervous wreck behind the blocks. She felt like she didn't belong in this heat or the meet and couldn't stop comparing herself to the racer in the next lane whose seed time was just a little faster than hers. When the starter called the swimmers up on the blocks she felt physically paralyzed and could barely catch a breath! Her race performance reflected exactly this. She swam terribly, adding a good 7 seconds from her qualifying time and recording the slowest time in this event. WHAT ARE THE UNCONTROLLABLES
The UCs reflect all of the things both before and during the meet that you have no DIRECT control over, and “DIRECT” is the key word here. When you go into a meet or race, and either before or during your event, you are concentrating on things that are directly out of your control, you'll get nervous, lose your confidence and swim poorly. In Sandy's case, the huge UC she was concentrating on was the competition. As a swimmer you have no direct control over your competition and how big, strong or fast they are. No matter what you do, you can't directly control how fast another swimmer goes. You can only control what is going on in between your lane lines. BEWARE OF THESE UNCONTROLLABLES
The venue and whether the pool is “fast” or “slow.”
How your training and/or taper has gone up until this point, (the past).
Your opponent's size, reputation and speed.
Your last event and anything else in the PAST.
How fast you'll swim, whether you'll final, i.e. anything in the FUTURE.
Other's expectations of you/what they'll think or say about you.
Who is watching.
Whether your parents will be disappointed in you.
Your coach and how he/she acts before and after your events.
How big this meet or race is.
How you feel that day, both physically or emotionally.
How fast your teammates are swimming.
The time of your races.
The kind of warm-up you have.
Things going on in your life outside of swimming, i.e. academic/personal.
The unexpected, i.e. the touch pads fail and you have to wait.
HANDLING THE UNCONTROLLABLES
Understand that the UCs are mental traps and they are lying in wait for you and every other swimmer at the meet. How do you avoid a trap? First, YOU HAVE TO SEE IT! You have to be aware of what your uncontrollables are. That is, what are the things that happen out of your control that tend to get you upset and run away with your composure? Make your own list of these UCs and put it up in your bedroom so that you will be able to clearly see it every day. Awareness is a key first step here! You avoid the UCs by first knowing that what you're paying attention to right now is out of your control.
Second, you have to discipline yourself to quickly return your focus of concentration back to what you are doing right now that you CAN control.
For example, if you're behind the blocks and suddenly start thinking about how good the swimmer in the next lane is, then quickly bring your focus back to your set pre-race ritual, i.e. look down at the back of the blocks, focus on the feel of your stretch, slow and deepen your breathing, jump up and down, etc.
Remember that the uncontrollables usually happen unexpectedly, and because of this, they will temporarily capture your focus. However, as long as you immediately become aware that your concentration has drifted off, and then you quickly return it to things that you can control, you will avoid falling into this performance-disrupting trap!
Build Better Bones in the Swimmer 4/27/2016 by Jill Castle, MS, RDN
As the mom of a swimmer and a childhood nutritionist with a special focus on young athletes, I’ve often wondered about the bone health of young athletes. Certainly, a healthy diet and exercise contributes to healthy bones… but is it enough?
Childhood and adolescence are when bones are built. If bone health is not established during this time, the risk of future osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones) is real. In fact, it is estimated that by 2020, 50% of Americans will be at risk for bone fractures related to osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
What Swimmers Eat
Diet is one area that impacts bone health, especially the nutrients, calcium and vitamin D. Unfortunately, consumption rates of these nutrients among children and teens fall short of requirements, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The average calcium intake by teen girls is 876 mg per day (67% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)), and less than 15% of teen girls actually meet the RDA. Boys have slightly better intake levels, but remain less than desirable.
As a refresher, children aged 9-18 years need 1300 mg calcium every day (and 600 IU of vitamin D daily).
Complicating the matter, milk consumption in teens has decreased over the years in favor of soda consumption and other beverages. Although milk substitutes such as almond milk or rice milk are fortified, bioavailable calcium (calcium that is active and available for the body to use) may be reduced in these products. Plant-based calcium foods are an option, but quantities may be too much for some young athletes to consume and others may be uninterested in these food options.
Also important to bone health is vitamin D, which is required for the absorption of calcium. Without it, only 10-15% of calcium from food is absorbed.
Swimmers can get vitamin D from animal-based food (fish), plant-based food (mushrooms), fortified food (milk, orange juice, eggs and cereal) and from activated vitamin D in the skin through sun exposure.
Sun exposure is a primary source of vitamin D, but this depends on skin color (darker skin colors absorb less vitamin D), time of day, latitude and use of sunscreen. Sunscreen with an SPF of 8 or greater will effectively block the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin. On the other hand, according to a 2014 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, exposure of arms and legs to the sun without sunscreen for 5 to 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week can generate up to 3000 IU of vitamin D.
Meeting calcium requirements from food requires thought and planning. Here’s an example of what it looks like for a 9 to 18 year old to meet daily requirements:
Two 8 ounce glasses of milk, 1 cup of yogurt and 1 cup of calcium-fortified orange juice; or 1 cup yogurt, ½ cup calcium-fortified orange juice, 1 cup calcium-fortified cereal, 1 slice of American cheese, ½ cup of cottage cheese, and an ounce of chia seeds.
For the dairy-free athlete:
One cup of almond milk and ½ cup of tofu (prepared with calcium sulfate); or 1 cup chocolate soymilk, 1 cup of spinach, two slices of calcium-fortified white wheat bread, ¼ cup almonds, 1 cup Bok Choy, and ½ cup V-8 juice.
How Swimmers Exercise
Other aspects encourage the healthy foundation and creation of strong bones in young athletes. Exercise is one of them.
Weight-bearing exercise seems to have the most impact on the development of bone structure, density and strength.
So what does that mean for a swimmer? Especially when the primary exercise in which he participates is non-weight-bearing?
I looked to a 2016 meta-analysis for insight. In this analysis, the effect of swimming on bone mineral density (BMD) was evaluated. Child and teen swimmers were compared to non-athletic sedentary peers, and were also compared to young athletes competing in high bone-building sports such as gymnastics.
Researchers found that swimmers had similar bone mineral density as the non-athlete sedentary group, and lower bone mineral density than the athlete peers participating in high bone-building sports. Furthermore, as the swimmers aged, the difference in bone mineral density grew with significantly lowered BMD over time compared to their athlete peers playing bone-building sports.
The authors concluded that swimming had a neutral effect on bone mineral density. In other words, it was not an effective sport for improving bone mineral density.
They suggested young swimmers add other bone-building exercises to their workout routine, such as running, jumping, brisk stair climbing and speed walking. This appears to be particularly important for the younger swimmer who may not be cross-training outside of the pool. Weight training also appears to help, and for younger swimmers, using one’s own body weight is effective and considered safe.
Dear Splash, My coach had a lecture for us about drinking things like soda and Gatorade during practice. He asked us to send a letter to the editor asking this question, "What should we drink during a swimming practice and how often?"
Drinking fluids during practice is very important, yet many swimmers save drinking for after practice. And, there can be barriers. My own daughter has complained stating, There isn’t enough time, Mom. Nobody else does it, why should I? The breaks are our time for talking and it’s awkward.
All the experts and all the science points to the importance of drinking fluids during practice, especially if muscles are to perform their best and the body can endure the demands of a long practice.
When figuring out what to drink, it’s all about the duration of practice.
For one-hour sessions or less, swimmers can drink and stay hydrated with plain water. But, when swimming sessions last more than an hour, swimmers need to replace the primary sweat nutrients, sodium and chloride, as well as consume some carbohydrate to improve endurance and keep muscles fueled. This can be accomplished with a beverage containing electrolytes and carbohydrate, such as a sports drink.
Most sports drinks provide a blend of sugars, maximizing the carbohydrate uptake to muscles, and come in concentrations of 4 to 9% solution (or 14 to 19 grams per 8 ounce serving size). There has been research in young athletes showing that sports drinks containing 8% carbohydrate may cause gastrointestinal upset, so lower concentrations may be better tolerated.
Fitness waters and enhanced water don’t provide enough carbohydrate for a long workout, and soda and other sugary beverages such as juice drinks, sweet tea, or lemonade are to be avoided as they may cause stomach distress.
How often should swimmers consume fluids during practice?
We can look to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who set three guidelines for fluid consumption during exercise for youth. They say:
Appropriate fluid replacement should be available and consumed at intervals before, during, and after exercise.
Nine to 12-year-old children should replenish with ~3 to 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes, and adolescents may consume 32 to 48 ounces of fluid every hour.
For longer-duration activities (more than an hour), electrolyte-supplemented fluids, such as sports drinks, should be used to optimize hydration.
While science tells us that swimmers should hydrate every 20 minutes, how does one make that happen in the pool? My advice is to bring drinks (with your name labeled on it) to the edge of the pool, at the end of the lane where you are swimming and being coached. At each pause in sets, or at a break, take two to three swigs of fluid (an average gulp of fluid is about one ounce).
For a young swimmer age 9-12 years, bring at least 12 ounces of water to the poolside for the first hour of practice, and another 12 ounces of sports drink if practice goes for two hours.
For teens, enter practice hydrated and with good nutrition on board. Bring along a liter of water to consume the first hour of practice. After that, switch to a sports drink (bring a liter) to make sure you maintain hydration, keep your energy level up and enhance your endurance.
Some swimmers don’t like the taste of sports drinks. Use other techniques to enhance hydration, such as watered down 100% fruit juice, water and a salty food such as pretzels, or a sports gel and lots of water.
Importance of Stretching Before Exercises | By Gina Belleme
Many active individuals believe stretching is not an important part of any exercise program and it can be skipped all together. However this is not true --- stretching can improve your flexibility, reduce risk of injury and improve your overall quality of life. By adding stretches that focus on all major muscle groups before you exercise, you will get more out of your workout and decrease muscular soreness afterward.
Stretching increases your flexibility. Increased flexibility can improve your physical performance during exercise and everyday life while reducing your risk of injuries by increasing the range of motion in your joints. As you age, your flexibility decreases, thus making your body stiffer and less mobile. By incorporating stretching into your routine you can counteract this process and maintain your current flexibility. Other Benefits
Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles, which is important for exercise because it increases mobility and prevents your muscles from tiring too soon. Stretching can be beneficial throughout the day. For example, if your neck muscles are tight at work you can gently stretch them to release tension and prevent headaches. If you are experiencing soreness from a previous workout, stretching before your next workout can alleviate some of the muscular stiffness. Proper Stretching
When you incorporate stretching into your exercise routine it is important to follow certain guidelines while stretching to avoid any onset of injury. Many believe stretching is considered a warmup; consequently stretching cold muscles can make you prone to injury. You should warm up with light activity --- walking or jogging --- before performing your stretches. According to MayoClinic.com, avoid any bouncing-type movements; these can cause small tears in your muscles. When stretching, you should hold the stretch for 30 seconds before releasing. It is important to stretch both sides of your body. For example, if you stretch your right quadriceps, you should also stretch your left quadriceps. Considerations
Stretching after your workout is equally as important as stretching before. Since it increases blood flow to your muscles, stretching afterward can lessen muscular soreness and aid in muscle recovery. If you already have an injury stretching it may not be best because it can cause more strain and prolong the injury. MayoClinic.com states stretching may not prevent all injuries, for an example you can still suffer from an overuse injury. You should consult with your physician about the best stretches for you if you have any health concerns.