The main reasons for stretching are to increase your flexibility and reduce your risk for injury. Stretching increases the range of motion of a muscle or joint. Stretching can also improve your circulation, decrease your stress level, and relax your muscles.
It’s easier to stretch your muscles when they are warm. Five to 10 minutes of walking, bicycling, or jogging in place should be enough to warm them up.
It is best to stretch every day. It is especially important to stretch before and after weightlifting, running, or any other sport. Stretching before an activity improves flexibility and reduces your risk of injury. Stretching after workouts helps to relax the muscles and reduce soreness.
There are several ways to stretch, but the safest and most popular method involves static stretching. When you do static stretching, you slowly lengthen your muscle to the point where you feel a mild stretch. You then hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds and then slowly release the stretch. The most important rule to follow for any stretching exercise is that it must not hurt. If you stretch to the point of pain, the muscle will not relax and might get even tighter.
To stretch safely follow these rules:
For a general stretching program, try to stretch all of the major muscles of the body. If you are getting ready for a certain activity (such as, running, tennis, or walking), make sure you stretch the parts of your body that you will use in that activity.
These basic exercises will stretch many of your major muscle groups.