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Here's Why It's Important:
Here's How to Stretch:
- Back muscles
- Neck muscles
- Leg muscles: hamstrings, quadriceps, calf muscles
- Chest muscles
- Buttocks and hip muscles
- Shoulder and arm muscles
- Stomach muscles
- Spend at least 5-10 minutes warming up your muscles before stretching. For example, walking gently while swinging your arms in wide circles.
- Start each stretch slowly, exhaling as you gently stretch the muscle.
- Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds.
- Three to four repetitions are recommended.
- Include dynamic and static stretching. Dynamic stretching involves you stretching the muscle while moving. A walking lunge (without weights) is an example. Static stretching, on the other hand, is when you are stretching a muscle group while staying in one place (like a hamstring stretch).
- Consider not stretching before an intense activity, such as sprinting or track and field events. Some research suggests that pre-event stretching may decrease performance.
- Do not bounce during a stretch.
- Do not stretch a muscle that is not warmed up.
- If a stretch hurts, ease up. Do not strain or push a muscle too far.
- Do not hold your breath while stretching.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/main.cfm/
Yoga Science Foundation http://www.yrec.org/
American College of Sports Medicine http://www.acsm.org/
American Council on Exercise http://www.acefitness.org/
Frankel JL, Bean JB, Frontera WR. Exercise in the elderly: research and clinical practice. Clinics in Geriatr Med. 2006;22:239-56; vii.
To stretch or not to stretch? American Council on Exercise website. Available at: http://www.acefitness.org/healthandfitnesstips/healthandfitnesstips%5Fdisplay.aspx?itemid=143 . Accessed May 12, 2012.
Stretching: focus on flexibility Mayo Clinic website. . Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/HQ01447. Updated February 23, 2011. Accessed May 12, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 05/2012
- Update Date: 05/12/2012