Why Bother Stretching?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

woman stretching

Your body is like a rubber band. Your muscles will become less flexible as you get older and when you are not active. This makes movement more difficult, and this is why stretching is important! Stretching may help reduce or prevent muscle soreness, cramps, and injuries. It can also improve stability and balance—especially when combined with resistance or strength training. Stretching can also help reduce muscle tension when you feel stressed.

Here are some stretching basics:

  • Do a short warm up before stretching—like taking a walk around the block or walking up and down your stairs for about 5 to 10 minutes.

  • Move slowly until you feel the muscle stretch. A safe stretch is gentle and relaxing.

  • Hold the stretch steady for 15 to 30 seconds. Do NOT bounce.

  • Relax. Then repeat 2 to 4 times. Aim for 60 seconds total for each body part.

  • Stretch within your own limits. If you're exercising with an exercise buddy, don't compete.

  • Remember to breathe—slowly in and out. Do NOT hold your breath.

  • Stretch each major muscle group—shoulders, chest, neck, trunk, lower back, hips, legs and ankles—at least two days a week.

IMPORTANT: Never stretch if you have pain before you begin. If a stretch causes pain, stop doing it. Listen to your body!

Not sure where to start? Check out our fabulous Stretching Guide for some ideas!

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