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.

Continue Learning about Stretching

Which Stretches Are Most Beneficial Before Going on a Walk?
Which Stretches Are Most Beneficial Before Going on a Walk?
Photo Credit: Rob, via Flickr Creative Commons Do you stretch before you walk? Do you know how to breathe properly when stretching? Did you know your...
Read More
How can I stretch my quadriceps?
National Athletic Trainers' AssociationNational Athletic Trainers' Association
There are several methods to stretch your quadriceps, for example: While laying on your stomach, ...
More Answers
My neck feels very stiff; what can I do pre-workout?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Before you begin your workout, make sure you go through a comprehensive warm-up consisting of flexib...
More Answers
A Better Warm Up and Cool Down
A Better Warm Up and Cool Down

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.