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What are guidelines for safe and effective stretching?

Follow these guidelines to make sure your stretches are safe and effective:
  • Stretch when your muscles are already warm. If you haven't just exercised, warm up your muscles by walking for 5 minutes or so.
  • Don't rush through your stretching routine. It's an important part of your daily exercise.
  • Stretch gently, slowly, and smoothly. Stretch only to the point where you feel mild tension in the muscle you are stretching. Then hold that position for at least 15 seconds, gently extending the stretch as your muscle loosens. Don't bounce when you stretch -- this can damage your muscles.
  • Breathe normally during each stretch. Holding your breath tightens up your muscles and makes the stretch more difficult.
  • Stretch each major muscle group through a full range of motion. Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times.

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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.