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Start Your Mornings With a Stretch

Start Your Mornings With a Stretch

Learn the basics of stretching and how it can improve your well-being.

In October of 2008, a mare named Donnaguska entered her first race at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero, IL. The announcer noted that the inexperienced horse was “far, far, far, far back” at the first turn and 15 lengths behind at the half. But in the homestretch, he suddenly declared, “Here comes Donnaguska! Where did she come from?” The late bloomer won by two and a half lengths.

A home stretch can do a lot for a filly—and an amazing amount for you, too. Making a morning stretch part of your everyday routine can promote flexibility, relieve physical and emotional tension, help build muscle strength, improve balance and help prevent joints from becoming less mobile.

There are three kinds of stretches: Static, dynamic and pre-contraction. For a static stretch, you hold a specific position that elongates a muscle for a count of 10 to 30 seconds and repeat three to five times, according to the National Institute for Aging. Dynamic stretching happens when you move your arm or leg through its full range of motion (not too fast) several times. Pre-contraction stretching means you contract the muscle you want to stretch for about 10 seconds before you do a static or dynamic stretch. Remember:

  • To loosen up before stretching, take a warm shower or use heat packs and try jumping jacks or jogging in place for three to five minutes, especially before dynamic stretching.
  • Never stretch to the point of pain.
  • Breathe. Exhale on the stretch, inhale on the release.

Learn more about the benefits of stretching.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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