How to Stretch… The Right Way

Article posted in: Fitness
How to Stretch

While getting in shape, the last thing you want is to be sidelined from your daily fitness routine because of a stretching injury. Proper stretching is just as important as exercise, as it improves flexibility, helps to correct posture and prevent injury, increases blood supply to your muscles and aids in calming the mind. Here are some “how to stretch” tips to ensure safe, effective stretching, as part of your overall wellness plan.

Save it for Last

Your body should be warmed up before you do any stretching, so it’s best to save this part of your workout for last. Stretching muscles that are not warmed up can cause injuries. Warming up with movements that mimic your workout gets your body ready to exercise. Complete your fitness routine and then cool down with five to 10 minutes of stretching.

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Learn Proper Technique

Modern technology is a beautiful thing when it comes to tracking down tutorials. Search for instructional images or videos made by fitness professionals and replicate the stretches that you find. If you have a large mirror in your home, keep an eye on your reflection to ensure that your form is correct. Talk to your doctor, physical therapist or personal trainer if you have questions specific to your body type or medical conditions. In general, you should hold a stretch for 10 to 30 seconds without bouncing, stretch only until you feel slight discomfort and breathe naturally without holding your breath.

Target Sore Muscles

You don’t need to stretch your entire body after each workout. Instead, direct your focus to a specific muscles that may need extra TLC—ones that you worked hard or that are especially tight. Focus on deep, long, comfortable stretches to support achy muscles.

Get Flexible

Consider joining a yoga or Pilates class, or pop in a DVD at home, to incorporate at least one intensive stretching session per week. As you increase your flexibility, add additional classes or home workouts to your weekly routine.

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