Stretching: Why, When & How

    Although many coaches and exercise physiologists formerly recommended stretching before a workout — without regard for the type of stretching — warming up with the type of activity known as static stretches is now considered outdated, ineffective and even dangerous. Most experts now agree that static stretching can cause you to feel weaker and more fatigued; in addition, there is no evidence that pre-workout stretching prevents injuries. To prepare for a workout, the best policy is to perform dynamic stretches: light activity that raises your heart rate while readying your muscles for exercise.

    How To Stretch

    After exercise, cool down and hold a given stretch only until you feel a slight pulling in the muscle, but no pain. As you hold the stretch the muscle will relax. As you feel less tension you can increase the stretch again until you feel the same slight pull. Hold this position until you feel no further increase.

    If you do not seem to gain any range of motion using the above technique, you may consider holding the stretch longer (up to 60 seconds).

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