Stretching: Focus on flexibility

You can stretch anytime, anywhere. Just follow these tips to do it safely and effectively.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Stretching may take a back seat to your exercise routine. The main concern is exercising, not stretching, right?

Not so fast. Stretching may help you:

  • Improve your joint range of motion
  • Improve your athletic performance
  • Decrease your risk of injury

Understand why stretching can help and how to stretch correctly.

Benefits of stretching

Studies about the benefits of stretching have had mixed results. Some show that stretching helps. Other studies show that stretching before or after exercise has little to no benefit.

Some research shows that stretching doesn't reduce muscle soreness after exercise, and other studies show that static stretching performed immediately before a sprint event may slightly worsen performance.

Stretching can help improve flexibility, and, consequently, range of motion about your joints. Better flexibility may:

  • Improve your performance in physical activities
  • Decrease your risk of injuries
  • Help your joints move through their full range of motion
  • Enable your muscles to work most effectively

Stretching also increases blood flow to the muscle. You may learn to enjoy the ritual of stretching before or after hitting the trail, ballet floor or soccer field.

March 04, 2014 See more In-depth