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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 1:19 am | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 
Q&A with K & A

Fun and Fit: Stretch It or Be Wretched

But there's a key component to a workout that's more important than stretching

Dear Fun and Fit: I am very comfortable in my fitness routine, which is generally a 20- to 45-minute treadmill program (depending how much time I have) followed by lunges with weights in hand, followed by upper body exercises with hand weights, followed by some ab work on the floor. (I’ll fess up: I’m often “too busy” to do the ab portion.) Where would it be appropriate to add stretching?

Fun and Fit:Q and A with K and A, aka Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA, and Alexandra Williams, MA
Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A, aka Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA, and Alexandra Williams, MA

— Joan in Oregon

Kymberly: It’s time to stretch your mind and your workout, Ms Comfy. Ignoring your “real” question for a moment (I am good at ignoring noncompliments, too), let’s chit chat about an exercise routine that is, well, too routine and comfortable. Once your body has adapted to a certain level (let’s call it the “buff, babe-a-licious” level), it needs change to keep adapting upward. No, not The Change. We don’t require age checks here.

While you really do need to get some stretching into your program, even more you need to vary your program. Take a look at our post “Keep the Mind Clear, Body Confused” for more on this professional free nagging. Priorities, priorities.

Alexandra: You want to add stretching? OK, cardio + weight training = need to stretch for range of motion (ROM!). To translate, if you do any cardio or weight training you should stretch (mostly at the end, but during is sometimes OK) in order to maintain or increase range of motion, also known as flexibility. In short, don’t do your stretching before your workout as your muscles are short then.

That’s my short answer! I gave all the researchers permission to let you know that stretching before exercise doesn’t prevent injury or muscle soreness.

K: The ideal time to stretch is when your muscles are at their warmest and cuddliest. Hmmm, that sounds immediately post-cardio to me. But since Alexandra brings up the “short muscle” comment, let’s think about that for a sec. Time’s up. After strength training, your muscles are short again. That’s why it’s called “muscular contraction.” And you do want to re-extend whatever you just shortened, stretching either between your lunges and each upper body exercise or at the end of your session. In general, stretch when warm; not when cold. Oy vay, such good advice!

Stretching is key to maintaining or increasing range of motion, also known as flexibility.
Stretching is key to maintaining or increasing range of motion, also known as flexibility. (Creative Commons photo)

A: It would seem you don’t need an excuse to lie down and not do your ab work, but I’ll give you one anyway. With all that time you’re saving avoiding the ab work, use it to hold your stretches for 15 to 30 seconds. You say “couch po-tay-toe,” I say “couch po-tah-toe.” You say “hold” or “contract-relax” stretching, I say “static” or “PNF.” Whatever!

These two types are probably the best choices for you. You say “Or-i-guhn,” some other fools — not I — say “Or-i-gahn.” And let’s not even start on the pronunciation of “Willamette.” Even Martin Sheen got it wrong on The West Wing. (Hint: Memorize this — ”It’s Willamette, dammit”) And do your abs, Willamette!

Dear flexible readers: Do you take time to do your stretches? Can you pronounce “Tualatin,” a lovely town in Oregon? Have you done your ab exercises yet?

— Identical twins and fitness pros Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams have been in the fitness industry since the first aerobics studio opened on the European continent. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves. They co-write Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A. You can currently find them in action leading classes in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Kymberly is the former faculty minor adviser at UCSB for its fitness instruction degree offered through the Department of Exercise & Sport Studies; Alexandra serves as an instructor and master teacher for the program. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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