Bariatric Fitness: The Importance of Stretching
When we carry excess weight throughout our lives, movement becomes increasingly difficult. This extra weight puts pressure on the joints and inhibits us from obtaining our full range of motion. This lack of flexibility and pressure on the joints leads to posture imbalances and pain throughout the body. For obese individuals and those who have either undergone or are preparing for bariatric surgery, it is very important to begin a stretching routine to create balance throughout the body. Having an imbalanced body can be very painful and is one of the biggest reasons why we choose to take the elevator rather than the stairs or drive the car a few minutes to a destination rather than walk. Improving flexibility allows us to begin moving again without pain and with movement comes the ability to change our lifestyle and begin a fitness routine.
Improving your diet and staying committed to a fitness routine will help bariatric patients lose weight. A fitness routine without stretching though can be detrimental to the goal of an overall healthy body and can lead to injury. Stretching reduces the soreness of muscles, improves our posture, and prevents muscular imbalances. Furthermore, it improves overall circulation and increases the transportation of nutrients. When we lift weights, we put microtears in our muscles that are then rebuilt stronger. With this increase in strength from rebuilding our muscles comes a decrease in flexibility unless we stretch before and after we lift weights (think of the extremely muscular guy at the gym who can hardly move his arms). Runners tend to put excess stress on their hamstrings and in turn, they often experience hip and lower back pain due to the imbalance. Runners need to stretch their hamstrings often or they won’t be runners much longer!
Now that we understand the importance of a flexible body, what are ways we can start improving our range of motion? The most important thing to do is to stretch every day. Yes, I said it. Every. Single. Day. When you wake up in the morning, take 5-10 minutes and go through a stretching routine. If you are low on time, make sure to at least stretch your main muscles groups such as your legs, hips, lower back, and shoulders. ALWAYS stretch your muscles before AND after a workout. Take a few minutes and get up from your desk and stretch. Taking a yoga class is a great way to combine both exercise and flexibility. A standard yoga class might be too difficult for an overweight individual so they make yoga classes designed for heavier people. Check out curveyoga or google a similar website for classes in your area. There are many excellent online videos that can walk you through some great stretching exercises. A quick YouTube search for “stretching exercises” comes up with many hits, including this awesome video. It is less than 10 minutes and stretches many of the muscle groups.
For obese individuals, do not be intimidated by your lack of range of motion in comparison to others. Flexibility takes time and with consistency comes improvement. If you find joint discomfort is inhibiting your ability to improve your flexibility or mobility in general, Vita4Life offers an excellent Complete Joint Support supplement. It contains a potent blend of Hyaluronic Acid, MSM (Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane), Glucosamine Sulfate, and Chondroitin. This blend of ingredients is designed to reduce inflammation, lubricate, relieve shock and compression, decrease deterioration, and rebuild collagen and cartilage in the joints. The capsules contain no fillers and dissolve in less than two minutes for maximum absorption and bioavailability. Combining a joint supplement with a consistent stretching routine will lead to a balanced, pain-free body.
Now get out there and start stretching!