It is important to get into a regular daily routine of doing soft and gentle mindful stretching. Our bodies are rather like cars in that we need to give them a regular MOT to run at a safe optimum level.
If you run it is vital to start with a gentle warm up consisting of gentle, slow, mindful stretches, leading to a more vigorous dynamic routine as your body warms up. I always find it amazing how many patients visiting my clinic with lower limb injuries that are caused by a poor or insufficient warm up. In this day and age of information technology and sport science it is totally ridiculous!
This is where an art like traditional Taijiquan and Qigong comes into its own, as the warm up exercises are thorough and are taught absolutely correctly right from the beginning. In days gone by such as with my early Karate training when sport science was in its infancy, the warm up was generally taught very poorly and this led to many long term injuries. I get very annoyed when I see classes still training in this outdated way. We pay particular attention to ensuring that correct body alignments are always adhered to, with soft releasing of any tension in the muscles, sinews and ligaments, using our minds to stretch more effectively. I find that my stretching is improving with age as effective mindful exercise is fundamental to good Taijiquan movement.
It is a good idea to always start any exercise routine in a manner that is both easy to remember and one that is effective for you and your regular sport or discipline. You can start by exercising the extremities such as the hands and feet first and work down progressively through each individual part of your body. This allows time for the blood to flow correctly into the peripheries. In this way you will not miss out parts of your body that need warming up and you will develop a safe effective routine for life.
Please remember that any routine you do must allow time for your body to gently heat up, so if the weather is cold wear extra layers of clothing and you can gradually take them off as your body warms up. Try to exercise at the same time each day and please remember that we all have times of the day in which our body requires more of a warm up. I find that I have to allow my body to warm up more in the morning, but it could be different for you?
It is important to wear loose clothing as tight clothing can be constrictive and interfere with natural movement. You should take your time and allow at least half an hour to effectively warm and stretch your body right through. If you rush your routine it is very easy to cause yourself an injury and put you out of training for many weeks.
If you commit to a regular routine it will reap rewards and overtime it may be possible to increase the range of movement and flexibility in your joints, even as you are getting older. The other thing is to maintain the flexibility that you have already got, rather than loose it with age.
If you have not exercised for some time and you are worried about your health, it is advisable to visit your GP and seek approval before exercising.
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