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How often should I stretch?

Dr. Anita Gupta
Anesthesiology
Stretching 3-6 days a week for a minimal amount of time can drastically improve mobility. Stretching increases circulation of blood and nutrients to muscles and cartilage, which reduces muscle soreness. Stretching also increases flexibility and makes exercising easier. As you age, muscles become shorter and tighter, which make you more inclined to muscle, tendon, and joint injuries. However, stretching will reduce these risks and allow you to be comfortable while exercising and performing daily activities. Stretching gives you a better balance and range of motion. Stress causes muscles to tense and contract, having adverse effects on your body. But, stretching can relieve stress by relaxing muscles and improving your mood. Stretching also mitigates lower back pain and soreness. Light stretching has many benefits and should be done before, after, or separate from your workout. 
 

Stretching may be the most natural movement for moving creatures. If you look at animals, you'll notice that a total body stretch is the first thing they do when waking up. They also keep stretching throughout the day.

Industrialization has led humans to living with minimal movement. As such we don't move through a healthy range of motion in our daily life. So we need to dedicate special time to maintain a healthy range of motion and the extensibility of our muscles and joints. 

Stretching throughout the day can be very beneficial to relax the stiffed joints and muscles that have been forced to a sitting position for long hours. Take some moments from your desk job every chance you get and stretch the hip flexers, do a mini back bend to undo the pressure on your spine. Open up your heart with a reverse prayer pose to relax the shoulders. And finally do yourself the gift of a yoga class once or twice a week.

 When done correctly stretching does more than increase flexibility. It enhances the development of body and reduces the risk of injury and soreness. Stretching before a workout prepares muscles and connective tissues for the work load and stretching after training speeds up the recovery process.

 

Stretching is one activity that you can (and should) do every day of the week! Aim to spend at least 5-10 minutes of stretching most days of the week (at least 5 days for optimal benefit).

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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.