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How can I stretch most effectively?

Stretching is a subject that has been getting more and more attention. There are different approaches to take when viewing stretching.

Stretching before your workout will help to increase circulation and warm up the muscle. General stretching should be used at this time. Do not overstretch before your workout as your joints will be more lax and may decrease the effeciency of your form during your workout.

Stretching after your workout is a great time to focus on lengthening the muscle, to increase your range of motion. At this time you are warmed up and your muscles will be able to work through the stretch better. 

Either way stretching can be helpful to your workout program. Make sure you know what your goals are, what works for you. Don't over stretch. It should never be painful.  
Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Here are four stretching tips:

1. Warm up first. Much like taffy, muscles stretch more easily when warm. Doing the warm-ups for each workout or taking a warm shower or bath will do the trick.

2. Feel no pain. Stretch only to the point of mild tension, never to the point of pain. If a stretch hurts, stop immediately! Reset your position carefully and try again. With time and practice, your flexibility will improve.

3. Breathe. Breathe comfortably when stretching.

4. Practice often. You'll see the best gains if you stretch frequently—several times a day on as many days of the week as possible.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.