Tag Archives: stretching

Stretch for Better Flexibility

I love this post! I hope you will read it and learn from it too. The more I read and write about health and fitness, the more I appreciate that ‘little things mean a lot.’ Little things like stretching, getting a good night’s sleep and walking, not living a sedentary lifestyle. These are elements that can keep you in tip top shape, mentally and physically for years to come.

To read further on some of these little things, Check out my Pages:

Do you know the dangers of too much sitting?

How important is a good night’s sleep?

Why you should walk more


Training For Life

This article was first published in The Hindu on 2nd October 2010.

unnamedI see people completing their workout routines and rushing through a few cursory stretches; mainly to appease the trainer, mind elsewhere, in a hurry to get going. Their flexibility does not get any better; they can still barely bend forward to reach for their thighs leave alone their toes, but they see no reason to waste time toiling with “stretches’. They have more important things to do, their cardio, so they can burn an indecent number of calories, push as much weight as they can to gain that well sculpted physique. Flexibility? Yes, well, let’s be done with it as quickly as possible!

One couldn’t be more mistaken. An inflexible muscle is more prone to injury and cannot perform as well as it should. Good quality muscle is supple, strong AND flexible.

unspecified-2Flexibility is the corner stone of…

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Filed under good night's sleep, prolonged sitting, sitting, sitting too long, sleep deprivation, stretching

Some Good Leg Stretches for Cyclists

Here is a post I wrote a while back for another blog I do. Thought you cyclists and/or runners might be interested.



Willing Wheeling

I ride my bicycle nearly every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for a total of 6350 miles. So far this  year, I am over 7500 miles in the first week of December.

In a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.

As every rider knows, your legs can get stiff after a while.  I have found three wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs. I usually do them after ten miles or so. That way the muscles are warmed up and I have good circulation.

There are pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes a difference. I do yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do the diaphragmatic breathing…

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What Are Five Fitness Myths?


Eat less; move more; live longer. Words to live by.


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April 25, 2014 · 6:08 am

Five Weight Training Tips for Arthritis Sufferers – Harvard

Although I am an avid bicyclist, I also recognize the need for weight training to keep my muscles from shrinking as well as to make my body a fat burning machine by replacing fat with muscle. In addition, as an arthritis sufferer, I have written repeatedly about arthritis and exercise: Yoga for arthritis, What are good exercises for folks with arthritis? and Is it okay to exercise with arthritis?

So I was happy to see Harvard offering five weight training tips for people with arthritis.
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What is the Most Balanced Exercise Program?

The more I read and write about exercise, the more the element of balance becomes important. Exercise if crucial to our well being, but it is easy to overdo it, or use bad technique and set ourselves back with an injury. Heaven knows I have had biking injuries galore.  So what is the most balanced exercise program, let me count the options.

Among the possibilities, are walking, running, weight lifting, bicycling, yoga, tennis, kick-boxing to name a few.


WebMD says that walking, weight lifting and yoga constitute the most balanced plan because there are “three different types of exercise: aerobic/cardio (walking), strength training (weight lifting), and flexibility training (yoga).

“All three are important. Aerobic or “cardio” (walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, tennis, basketball) boosts the strength of your heart and lungs; strength or “resistance” training (weight lifting, resistance band exercises, etc.) help to keep your muscles and bones strong, and help with balance and coordination; and flexibility exercises (yoga, stretching, tai chi) can improve your range of motion and reduce your risk for injury.”

You can take the WebMD test on Fitness Do’s and Dont’s at the link.

I really like their breakdown because I consider walking to be the Cinderella sister of exercises. Everyone does it to some extent, but very few people appreciate the benefits.

Here are some of my posts on walking.

Benefits of Walking and Cycling

Walking, not Sudoku for Seniors

National Walking Day – American Heart Association



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Filed under aerobics, aging, Exercise, stretching, tai chi, target zone, walking, warming up, Weight, weight-bearing exercise, weight-training, yoga

What about Lat Pull-Down Machines? WebMD

I have a health club in my building that I use when I want to do weight work or when weather conditions don’t permit me to ride my bike outside.

As I mentioned in my post on How I Lost 50 Pounds in 52 Weeks I try to work my biggest muscles like lats, quads, chest to get the most benefit from weight work.

I was surprised to see that WebMD said I was doing the lat pull-downs wrong, or at least, not with the best technique. I always pulled it down behind my neck as in the photo below.


“Only people with very mobile shoulder joints can keep their spines straight enough to do this exercise properly. So the move — done wrong — can lead to shoulder impingement or worse, a tear in the rotator cuff. And if the bar hits the back of the neck, it could injure cervical vertebrae,” WebMD said.


It put correct technique as shown above. “On the pull–down machine, lean back a few degrees, use a wider–than–shoulder grip, and bring the bar down in front of your body to the breastbone, pulling shoulder blades down and together. Contract your abdominals to stabilize the body, and avoid using momentum to swing the bar up and down. The lat pull–down works the muscles of the upper back.” Continue reading

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What About Walking Poles?

On my daily Chicago lakefront bike rides I see joggers, walkers, tourists, other cyclists, roller bladers,  you name it. A number of the walkers I see use what look like ski poles. They are out regularly and use the poles daily. I wondered what good they were.

Some web searching indicates that they have been around since 1988, but still relatively unknown. Tom Rutlin created the Nordic Walking method and brought the first commercial  walking poles to the U.S.

Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of the Mayo Institute writes, “Walking poles work your arms, shoulders, chest and upper back muscles through a functional range of motion as you walk — which can help you turn your daily walk into a full-body workout. This activity is sometimes called Nordic walking.

“Most walking poles have rubber tips that grab the pavement and wrist straps that secure the poles to your arms. With one walking pole in each hand, you grip the handles and push off with each stride. Sturdier walking poles designed for hiking are known as hiking or trekking poles.”

He offers the following as benefits of walking poles:
*“The arm movement associated with walking poles adds intensity to your aerobic workout, which  helps you burn more calories.
*”Walking poles improve balance and stability.
*”Walking poles help you maintain proper posture, especially in the upper back, and may help to strengthen upper back muscles.
*”Walking poles take some of the load off your lower back, hips and knees, which may be helpful if you have arthritis or back problems.”
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Why Should I Do Yoga?

Almost 15 million Americans practice yoga. Yoga Journal

When I was in my 30’s I dated a woman who taught yoga and for two years I practiced it religiously with her. After we split up I continued my daily yoga for a long time. Somehow, in the midst of the trials and tribulations of my life, I scaled back on it and stopped practicing regularly. Nonetheless I continued to benefit from things I had learned from it, like diaphragmatic breathing. This wonderful tool has helped me to deal with stress all my life. Even now in retirement, I still use it although I feel far less stress than I did when I was a worker bee.

When I first started doing yoga, I was still a runner and one immediate benefit was that I didn’t turn my ankles as often, or at all. I don’t know if assuming the poses strengthened my ankles and legs or I simply achieved a better sense of balance, but I went from turning my ankles about once a week, to maybe twice a year. Also, in the years I did yoga, I had a really heightened awareness of my body that was very gratifying, hard to explain, but gratifying.

I find that now as a senior citizen, there are good reasons for me to resume my yoga practice. First, while I ride a bike daily and enjoy superb cardiovascular health, I don’t enjoy doing weight-bearing exercise very much. And, everyone needs to do that, too. It turns out yoga is weight-bearing exercise, but much more enjoyable (to me) than pumping iron. Second, I recently heard a talk on seniors falling which I wrote up here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, said, “Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.”

Frankly, that scared me. People die in hospitals. I want to steer clear of them. So, increasing my strength and balance through yoga has become very much more appealing.

I also remember that wonderful feeling of exhilaration doing yoga. The release of each posture always made those particular muscles feel alive with energy. The controlled relaxation at the end of every session never failed to boost my spirits. I would like to return to those sensations. So, I have started doing yoga again.

But, what about you? Maybe you aren’t an old man who doesn’t want to fall and go to the hospital. Why should you do yoga?

Here is what the yogasite says about why you should do yoga.
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Filed under aging, back pain, Exercise, relaxation, stress, stretching, Weight, yoga

What are Two Good Yoga Stretches for Cyclists?

I ride my bicycle virtually every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for all 365 days for a total of 6350 miles for the year.

As you can imagine in a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up taking some longer rides to compensate.

As a senior citizen riding the bike every day can sometimes stiffen up my leg muscles. I have found two wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs on long rides. I usually do them after about ten miles so the muscles are warmed up at that point. Every time I do them, I can always feel the energy flowing back into my legs when I finish.

I have pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes a difference. I did yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do diaphragmatic breathing which sends lots of oxygen-rich cells down to the aching muscles.

For the first bent-knee, extended leg stretch, please do it as follows. The picture in this case isn’t perfect. Try to create a straight line from the bottom of his stretched out leg to the top of his head. Don’t bend your body and lay your head down as the cyclist in the photo is doing. With your bent leg, make sure that the knee is perpendicular to the ground. That way you have all straight lines and right angles. Once you are in the stretch breathe in through the nose for a count to five, hold it, then release it through your mouth for a count of five. Do this four or five times and then release the position gently. Assume the same position only with the legs reversed. If the right leg was stretched, now it will be the bent one. Repeat the breathing.

I find the second stretch to be very satisfying and also slightly more difficult. I don’t have the balance to do it as in the photo. I always put one hand against a wall to steady myself. Reach back with your right hand and lift your foot bending at the knee. Grasp your foot as close to the toe as possible as this elongates the muscle more. Now, again, stand at a right angle to the ground, don’t lean. Holding the wall, pull up gently with your hand till you feel a good stretch. It shouldn’t hurt, but you should feel a pleasant pull. With your body straight do the same diaphragmatic breathing as before with five counts on the inhalation through the nose and then five counts on the exhalation through the mouth. Do this four or five times and then release the foot and let it gradually lower to the ground. Don’t drop it. Repeat with the other foot.

After I do these, I can feel the energy surging in my legs again and find new impetus and strength to ride.

Obviously, you can use these if you are a runner, too.

If you run, or ride a bike and have any favorite stretches that work well for you, please feel free to share them here.

Eat less; move more; live longer.


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