Friday, May 16, 2008

Flexibility - Stretches and Stretching Exercises for Fitness Flexibility

Stretching exercises for improving flexibility is one of the most overlooked and underestimated parameters of health and fitness. The right stretches and stretching exercises can improve flexibility almost immediately, resulting in reduced aches & pains and increased energy.

Chronic lower back stiffness, lack of energy and limited range of motion. These are conditions that affect millions of people, from sedentary couch potatoes to elite athletes. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 14% of new patient visits to physician offices (approximately 13 million annually) are for complaints of low back pain. In fact, an estimated 18% of the population has debilitating back pain at any given time.

"When you factor in the number of people that don't bother to go to the doctor, the number is probably double and quite possibly higher." claims Exercise Physiologist, Joey Atlas. "Proper stretching and flexibility exercises can fix most of this problem."

Avoidance of stretching exercises, lack of knowledge regarding specific stretches and limited flexibility are three causes of the lower back pain epidemic. The biggest complaint from many sufferers is the challenge of waking up to morning stiffness and backache on a daily basis, with some days being worse than others depending on previous day's activities and overnight sleeping position. With more rest time for healing comes decreased energy levels (maybe mild depression).

"Flexibility is the most underestimated and misunderstood element of health and fitness. The right stretches, done three times per week would literally wipe out the vast majority of lower back aches and increase energy by leaps and bounds. It's no surprise that so many people are clueless about this, most personal trainers don't even know." said Joey Atlas. "You don't have to become a yoga nut or a Pilates addict. You can do your stretching while watching TV."

Here are five principles for getting and staying flexible:

1) Ease into a stretching program whether you've been exercising regularly or not.

2) Stay consistent. Three to five stretching exercise sessions per week is ideal.

3) If you feel pain, stop! Slight discomfort is fine, but pain is not. Don't do a stretch if it hurts.

4) The best stretching exercises do not require expensive equipment or elaborate devices. You can increase your flexibility with stretches that can de done on a mat with the assistance of a towel.

5) If you don't know what to do, hire a fitness professional who is trained in flexibility conditioning or invest in a few good stretching exercise videos.

A properly planned stretching exercise program can improve fitness and flexibility, regardless of age. A simple stretching mat and a little bit of floor space for leg and back stretches is all you need for continuous improvement in your health and energy levels.

Joey Atlas holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology. He is the creator of Optimum Flexibility'. This 2 DVD stretching and flexibility training program is the result of Joey's personal chronic back pain solution combined with stretching exercises he incorporates into each of his clients' fitness training programs.

To learn more about Joey's internationally distributed programs visit his main site, Health & Fitness Advice, at


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