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How long should I hold each stretch?

Stretching should be a key component of any workout.  The length of time you should hold a stretch depends on the type of stretching being performed.

There are three main types of stretching, all of which should be performed in a progressive and systematic manner.

Static Stretching
This type of stretching is used to passively take a muscle to the point of tension and then hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. This technique allows for greater lengthening of the muscles.

ex. wall chest stretch http://www.sharecare.com/question/how-do-i-perform-a-wall-chest-stretch

Active Stretching
This approach involves using muscles to dynamically move the joint into a range of motion.  These stretches are suggested for preactivity warm-up as long as the individual has no physical limitations or injuries present.  These stretches are typically held for 1-2 seconds each and performed for 1-2 sets for 5-10 repetitions.

ex. active supine hamstring stretch http://www.sharecare.com/question/best-ham-string-stretch

Dynamic Stretching
This technique allows the joint to move through the full available range of motion and is used to improve soft tissue extensibility. The individual can perform 1 set, 10 repetitions and 3-10 exercises.  It is recommended that a client have good levels of core stability and balance capabilities before undertaking an aggressive dynamic stretching program.

ex. tube walking http://www.sharecare.com/question/how-do-i-perform-side-to-side-tube-walking

Don't forget about self-myofacial release (SMR) or foam rolling - this type of stretching involves use of a foam roll to loosen adhesions or knots in the muscles and stretches are generally held for 20-30 seconds before moving to another spot.

See: http://www.sharecare.com/question/what-is-foam-rolling

Learn about the different stretching techniques and when to use them to get the best possible results and prevent injury.

This depends on the type of stretch you are performing. For static stretches, hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Once you have held the stretch for around 7 seconds, try to relax a little deeper into the stretch without causing strain. For active stretches, you hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds each.

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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.