10 tips for safe stretching
Here are some tips on how to do it properly.
- Stretch for 10 minutes every day. Regular stretching improves your balance, strength and flexibility.
- Get advice to avoid injury. Check with your doctor or health professional before stretching if you have an injury, are unsure of how to stretch properly or have had a previous injury.
- Warm-up your muscles before stretching. Try 10 minutes of gentle exercise like walking. Stretching cold muscles may result in injury.
- Hold a sustained stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Don’t bounce when stretching. Overstretching causes muscle to contract and can cause small tears in fibres.
- Only stretch to the point of mild discomfort. Once your muscle feels comfortable, increase the stretch then hold it again. If it hurts, you’re pushing too hard.
- Breathe normally when stretching. Don’t try to hold your breath or perform special breathing exercises.
- Balance your routine. Work opposing muscle groups each time you stretch. If you start by stretching the muscles in the back of your thigh, then follow by stretching the muscles at the front.
- Prevent boredom. Add variety to your routine by increasing your stretching repertoire. For example, you could join a yoga class or visit your local physiotherapist for new stretches.
- Include stretching in your daily routine. Gentle stretching can improve your circulation and steady blood flow helps reduce muscle tension and soreness.
- Make stretching part of your other warm-up and cool-down activities. It will help put you in the right frame of mind before exercise and help you relax afterwards.