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How do I begin stretching?

Wendy Batts
Fitness
While stretching commonly tight areas like the shoulders, calves and hips are great places to start, using the results from a movement assessment such as the Overhead Squat is ideal. A movement assessment can point to specific muscle groups that are overactive. Overactive muscle groups feel tight and restrict motion in your joints and require stretching to return them to a more ideal position.

The technique most people should start with is static stretching. Begin by selecting 2-3 muscle groups to focus on before a workout. To perform each stretch, hold the end position for at least 20-30 seconds. Remember to stretch to a point of tension, not pain. The tension is enough to yield results from the stretch. Whether you are stretching your upper or lower body, be sure to pull the area below your navel in toward your spine which will help to keep your pelvis and spine in good posture. Also be sure to keep breathing and stop the stretch should you feel any pain, numbness or tingling.
Grant Cooper, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
If you have never stretched before, I encourage you to make a commitment to it. Start slowly, under the direction of an experienced physician, physical therapist, or trainer. After a few weeks, you will become more flexible, which should help you control and alleviate your arthritis symptoms.
The Arthritis Handbook: Improve Your Health and Manage the Pain of Osteoarthritis (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

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The Arthritis Handbook: Improve Your Health and Manage the Pain of Osteoarthritis (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

According to conventional wisdom, arthritis pain is an inevitable part of aging. Not so, says Dr. Grant Cooper in this practical, accessible guide. For those who do develop osteoarthritic conditions,...

You can begin stretching at anytime; you do not need to achieve a certain fitness level to start. You can begin by stretching in the morning or the evening. Most research studies on static stretching have shown a frequency of five days per week using 1-4 repetitions for the duration of 15-30 seconds to be most beneficial for the apparently healthy population between the ages of 15 and 45 years of age.  Though, there is a range in time, 20- to 30-seconds of stretch duration may in fact produce more reliable, and possibly quicker, results.  In a population of clients equal to or greater than 65 years of age, it has been shown that longer durations of 60 seconds may produce better and longer lasting results.  

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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.