We hope everyone is faring well and looking forward to some nice spring weather. A couple of things are on the horizon:

Masks and the Vaccine:  we are currently discussing a safe way to allow clients to train at the studio without wearing masks.  This would not happen until probably July when most everyone will have been vaccinated. We may be requesting proof of having been vaccinated before this will be allowed.  In the meantime, masks are still required for entry to the studio.

Walking Clinic: we will once again be offering our free walking clinic, starting in June (social distancing will be observed).  Notices will be sent to former participants, and new participants are always welcome.

STRETCHING (excerpted from IDEA Fitness Journal)

When it comes to physical fitness, many of us focus on improving our endurance, strength and cardio capacity, and tend to put limbering up on the backburner.

So how bad is it really to skip stretching altogether? Stretching is the basis for flexibility, so if you want to enhance it, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) says those side bends are essential. Not to mention, flexibility is a core component of physical fitness.

What Happens When You Stretch a Muscle – Whether you’re doing a spinal twist, hip opener or side bend, stretching helps your body move more freely. After about 7 to 10 seconds of stretching, your muscle will release some tension, at which point the spindles — long lengths of tissue within each muscle — extend, enhancing your range of motion.

In the short term, the increased range of motion will last for 10 to 20 minutes after you finish stretching. But if you stretch regularly, then over time you will grow your overall range of motion. “This allows you to move effectively and properly in daily life.

What can happen if you don’t stretch?

You Can Develop a Rounded Upper Back – Folks who never stretch are more likely to eventually take on a hunchback appearance. If you are not maintaining your flexibility, it can lead to poor posture. Gravity will hunch you forward — your shoulders will round and your chin will stick forward.

And improper alignment not only leads to issues like lower back and neck pain, but it can also cramp your lifestyle as you age. “As your posture gets progressively poorer, it impacts your ability to perform normal activities of daily living.

While skipping stretch sessions probably won’t have much of an impact when you’re in your 20s, your flexibility declines each decade thereafter. Stretching resets our posture and is one of the ways to combat the negative adaptations associated with aging.

You’re More Likely to Get Hurt – The primary reason flexibility declines with time? The content of H2O in your body decreases as you age. As a result, not only will you feel stiff instead of supple — but you are also more injury-prone.

A lower concentration of water within your muscle, ligament and tendon cells can lead to tears and injury. Case in point: When your tendons aren’t as spongy, it’s easier for them to pop under strain. And as the discs cushioning the vertebrae in your lumbar spine (lower back) become friable, they can cause pain.

With many Americans leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles, this becomes more of a concern. A June 2017 study in the ​Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine​ found that the longer students spent sitting, the more contracted their hamstrings were. Since joint mobility is also a driver of balance, people with tight muscles are at a greater risk of falling.

In addition, neglecting to stretch before working out may lead to sports injuries. A ‘cold’ muscle will fatigue faster, which puts extra strain on the fibers around each muscle group and the tendons and ligaments attached to those muscles.

It’s also a good idea to stretch after exercise. You run the risk of feeling sore if you don’t allow your muscle fibers to recover gradually [via stretching]. You can damage your muscle cells, leading to bursitis or tendonitis.

You Might Not Be as Fast or Strong – Increased flexibility can improve strength, endurance and sport-specific training, according to the ACE. If your muscles are too tight, then you might not be able to activate the fibers necessary for explosive movements, the ACE says.

It’s kind of like a rubber band; pulling the muscle back and then releasing it allows it to fly forward with greater speed. Stretching a muscle to its maximum length gives it more energy to contract, leading to increased force, agility and a faster reaction time.

Stretching also boosts circulation. “When you stretch, you bring blood back into the muscles. That’s important because when you activate a muscle, blood needs to come into the muscle to help facilitate that movement.

So, How Bad Is It Really to Never Stretch? – It depends on what activities you do. If you play tennis, tight muscles put you at risk of a ligament or tendon injury. In terms of your general lifestyle, it might make you feel less stiff when sitting at your desk or riding in the car for long periods of time.

Age is also a factor. If you’re in your 20s, not stretching might not present any issues at the moment, but I’m a strong proponent of thinking about what you want the back half of your life to look like. Eventually, you will see the cumulative effect of decades of not stretching — and it is much more challenging to increase your flexibility when you are in your 70s.”