Wow, it's officially been a week and I haven't given up yet! I've done five 4.5 mile/7.2km walks which are getting easier each time, boxing and martial art staff training, strength work like sit ups and push ups, and stretching and flexibility!
Right, stretching. Before you do any serious exercise you need to warm your muscles up, I made that mistake when I did my first walk on Saturday and paid for it on Sunday. I've been finding muscles I didn't know I had, apparently there are two muscles either side of your spine just above your bum. My hubby thinks they are the muscles that help with hill walking; well I definitely know they are there now!
I used to do a lot of Yoga with my mum when I was younger and continued to do it when I was in University, in recent years I have gotten out of the habit and really need to start up again. We never went to any classes, we used a couple of books by Lyn Marshall. She is a fantastic teacher and you can get her books, 'Keep up with Yoga' and 'Wake up to Yoga', for literally pennies on Amazon here, and here. I'm talking to the boys as well here!
The most important thing about stretching is that you do it slowly, I really mean it. Your warm up stretching needs to be done slowly and gently, don't try to push it too far or be fast or jerky with your movements. If you try to speed up you will hear an interesting "SPOING" noise, followed by ambulance sirens and a trip to hospital. I do quite a few stretches now that I remember what it feels like to not do them, some I've learned over the years and some I've found recently by researching this Blog.
Here is what I do to get ready.
Touching my toes: I prefer to do this one sitting down as you have more control. Sit with your feet together and legs straight out in front of you. Keeping your back straight, reach with your hands and lean forward slowly until you feel the muscles at the back of your knees go tense, if it hurts too much then stop. Hold it there for as long as it's comfortable then slowly lean back again. Do this a few times then bring your knees up and hug them to loosen up again.
Stretching the inner legs is very similar, sit on the floor with your legs apart as far as they can go. Slowly reach forward with your arms and lean forward, you will really feel the tendons in the inner thighs right into your crotch stretching with this one. When you feel you've done all you can hug your knees again.
Side Stretching: This one's a little tricky to explain so I've done pics with this. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart raise one of your arms over your head bending the elbow so that your hand touches your head. Reach over with your other arm and take hold of the elbow of the first arm. Keeping your back as straight as you can, lean to the side as though your hand was pulling the opposite elbow over your head. You should feel a stretch from your hand down to your thigh if you do this right, again be slow and gentle.
This is the one you see Footballers do a lot, I generally hold onto something - it's a little bad if you fall sideways because you've lost your balance! Standing straight up, raise your heel toward your bum. Reach down with one hand and take hold of your foot. Very slowly pull your heel towards your bum and push your pelvis forward. You must keep a straight line from the front of your leg to your body though.
This is one my mum taught me. Stand straight with your arms out to your sides like a cross, lift your hands so that your fingers face the ceiling and push the heels of your hands out like you want to touch the walls either side. Start making tiny circles with your arms. You will feel the back of your hand stretch, this also stretches your biceps. After a few rotations change the direction of the circles.
There are quite a few other stretches here, and here. The second site is a little ad heavy but the info is good.
Having a flexible body feels fantastic, it's a gradual process but once you start to get good at it the benefits are obvious. I've just counted back and I've used the word 'slowly' about six times, it's the word of the day for stretching. My Cardiovascular fitness is, quite frankly, rubbish but I'm still quite stretchy! Seriously, the boys especially, grab a copy of her books and try it out!