Before beginning any workout or stretching routine, take a few minutes to warm up. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury. Begin with a simple, low-intensity warm-up such as walking for 5 to 10 minutes.
When performing any stretch, remember the following:
- Go slow, exhaling as you gently stretch the muscle.
- Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Avoid bouncing. Holding a stretch is more effective and there is less risk of injury.
- Avoid stretching muscles that have not been warmed up.
- Never strain or push. If it hurts, ease up.
- Never hold your breath!
Develop a daily routine of stretching. It will benefit your body and your brain. Many people allow time constraints to prevent them from stretching. Others simply think stretching isn’t important. Just five minutes of stretching is better than nothing. Ideally, at least 30 minutes, three times per week, should be dedicated to flexibility training. ALL aerobic activity should be followed by at least a few minutes of stretching.
Get stretching! Take a class that incorporates stretching such as yoga or tai chi. Scheduling a class will help you stick with a regular program. Stretch before getting out of bed in the morning. It will clear your mind and help jump-start your day. Try doing a few stretches immediately after a shower or soak in a hot tub. Hot water elevates muscle temperature making them more pliable and receptive to stretching.
Remember to stretch today!