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Improving Flexibility Can Help You Stay Active

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Most kids do not worry about pulled muscles or sore joints, but many adults learn too much exercise or the wrong kind of exercise can cause pain and even injury.

Bob Glowacki's dedication to exercise began two years ago after open heart surgery. To make sure he can keep the routine going, he joined a stretching class at WakeMed.

"I wish more people did it. I think it's good for everybody to get involved in an activity such as this," he said.

Fitness specialist Bobby Chastain said many people who exercise regularly either skip stretching or do it wrong.

"As part of an exercise routine, it's really key because you can't exercise very well if your joints don't move very well," Chastain said.

Before the class, David Carasow did the kind of stretching his golfing buddies did.

"The first thing we do in the morning is start stretching to stretch our muscles and do all the things that the class told us were the wrong things to do," Carasow said.

One of the things was stretching before warming up. Stretching is better done after a little exercise, not before. Also, avoid ballistic stretching like when you reach for your toes and bounce up and down. Chastain said it can do more harm than good.

"It really doesn't benefit a person at all. The best type of stretching is to do very slow static stretching and hold the stretch from 15 to 30 seconds," Chastain said.

With more flexibility, you get better coordination, improved posture, better muscle function and less muscle soreness and stiffness after exercise. For the members of the class, that means being able to exercise more and staying healthier longer.


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