Daily stretching is important

Regular stretching can help maintain flexibility and long term mobility.

It is important to stretch after exercising because cardio and strength training exercises tighten your muscles. However, stretching on a regular basis, not necessarily following exercise, can be very beneficial too.

So how often should you stretch? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should stretch your major muscle groups such as calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders at least twice a week for 60 seconds per exercise. Also, don’t forget stretching muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play such as your wrists. It is also important to stretch when your muscles are warm because they are more receptive to stretching. Stretching before exercising is not necessary and is not advised because your muscles are cold and that can increase your risk of injury.

Dynamic stretching that moves a muscle group fluidly through an entire range of motion should be used as a part of a warm-up routine such as twisting your torso, walking lunges and leg swings. Static stretching is when you move a muscle to the end of its range of motion and maintain it without pain for 15-30 seconds. Static stretching such as a hamstring stretch can be part of cooling down your muscles after exercising.

Stretching should be pain-free, but you can expect some tension. If it hurts, stop immediately.

As a general rule, stretching should accompany exercising. However, if you don’t exercise regularly, you may want to consider stretching at least 2-3 times a week to maintain flexibility and long-term mobility. You can stretch anytime, anywhere — in your home, at work or when you’re traveling. If you have a chronic condition or an injury, talk with your doctor or health care provider about the best way for you to stretch.

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