Working out on a regular basis is an accomplishment in and of itself. Still, it should be balanced with stretches to keep your body limber and to avoid injuries. These tips will help you to get the most out of your stretch every time.
Don’t Push Past Slight Discomfort
Stretching should never be painful. If you are experiencing pain, it could be due to overworking your muscles, pushing your body beyond what it is ready for, or even a sign of injury. To be clear, stretching can be uncomfortable, especially if you’re new to it. Live in that discomfort, but don’t push beyond it.
Understand That Your Flexibility Changes
This is an element of stretching many individuals have issues with: One day, you feel flexible and productive in your stretches, while another day, the same stretches feel foreign. Just because you touched your toes yesterday doesn’t mean your body is ready to do the same today. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly.
Don’t Rush Your Body Into a Stretch (Warm Into It)
Many people believe that stretching before physical activity is best, but in reality, it’s best to stretch when your muscles have had a chance to warm up. A low-impact warmup that lasts about 5-10 minutes is perfect. Once you’ve done that, you can begin stretching. Gradually move into it, extending deeper as you exhale.
Spend About 30 Seconds Per Stretch
Stretching isn’t as impactful as it can be if you’re moving on after a few seconds – and it can cause injury if you stretch for too long. On average, spend about 30 seconds per stretch. Some individuals may need to hold their stretches a little longer (up to 60 seconds), but the 30-second mark is your safest bet, especially if you’re relatively new to the practice.
If you only stretch once in a while, you’re doing your body a disservice. Not only are you increasing your risk of injury, but you’re also undoing all of that good work from your last stretch by going too long in between sessions. Stretching regularly can increase your flexibility and mobility, relieve tension, improve your mood, release toxins from the body, and recharge your mind.
Stretching is so important for the health of your joints and muscles, but many people simply go through the motions without optimizing the exercises. These tips will ensure your stretch is the most meaningful for your body.