Health & Wellness

Be Flexible: The Do’s and Don’ts of Stretching

Nothing feels better than stretching out tired muscles! Not only does it feel good, but it’s also a great way to improve your flexibility and complete your workouts. With such a wide variety of stretches and conflicting advice out there, it can seem intimidating to start your own stretching routine. But a few simple safety tips can help you get started focusing on your flexibility.

How to Stretch Properly

Do’s

  • Take a quick walk before stretching to prep your muscles. If you warm up beforehand, you’ll have an easier time stretching.
  • Take your time. As with any new exercise, you should start out at a beginner level. Stretch for about 10 to 15 seconds at a time, and as your muscles become accustomed to stretching, you can work your way up to 30-second intervals.
  • Practice each stretch three to five times per workout.

Don’ts

  • Don’t push yourself too far. You should feel a slight stretch in your muscles, but stretching shouldn’t be painful.
  • Don’t stick to the same stretch over and over. There are many types of stretches out there, and performing a variety can ensure you work toward full-body flexibility.
  • Don’t keep your limbs completely straight when stretching. Slightly bending your arms and legs will help you prevent injury.

Stretches to Get You Started

Quadriceps Stretch

Stand up and hold on to a stable structure, such as a chair, for support. Bend your right leg at the knee to raise your foot toward your bottom. Try to get your heel as close to your buttocks as you comfortably can. Grab your ankle with your right hand, hold for a few seconds, and then lower your foot back to the ground.

Torso Stretch

Sit in a chair with your feet firmly on the ground and your hands on your head. While keeping your legs and feet facing forward, slowly turn your upper body and head to one side until you are facing a new direction. Hold, and then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Back Stretch

Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands together and slowly reach towards the ceiling, holding your palms upwards. Hold for a few seconds, then gently lower your arms to their starting position.

If you experience muscle strain or injury, visit the experienced orthopedic and primary care physicians at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group. They can also help you modify stretches based on chronic conditions or previous injury and give you tips on how you can optimize your athletic performance.


Sources
Healthline | Stretching
American Heart Association | Flexibility Exercise (Stretching)
American Heart Association | Stretching and Flexibility Exercises

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