Stretching and flexibility

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Stretching is an important component of any exercise program. Most aerobic and strength training programs inherently cause your muscles to contract and tighten.

Stretching after you exercise helps optimize the range of motion about your joints and boosts circulation.

As a general rule, stretch your major muscle groups after you exercise. In some studies, stretching right before an athletic event has been shown to decrease athletic performance, especially before activities requiring ballistic movements, jumping or running.

Overall, however, stretching after exercise can help you to optimize your joint range of motion. If you don't exercise regularly, you may want to stretch a few times a week after a brief warmup to maintain flexibility.

When you're stretching, keep it gentle. Breathe freely as you hold each stretch for around 30 seconds. Try not to hold your breath. Don't bounce or hold a painful stretch. Expect to feel tension while you're stretching. If you feel pain, you've gone too far.

Moving in sport- or activity-specific motion planes in gradually progressive speed (dynamic stretching) may be a helpful complement to static stretching and may help improve athletic performance.

Oct. 11, 2019

See also

  1. 10,000 steps
  2. Slide show: 5 smart exercise choices for psoriatic arthritis
  3. 5K training schedule
  4. 6 tips for an active getaway you'll remember
  5. Accentuate the positive to make lasting health changes
  6. Exercise warm-up
  7. Aerobic exercise
  8. Aerobic exercise: What's the best frequency for workouts?
  9. Air pollution and exercise
  10. Ankle weights for fitness walkers
  11. Balance training: Boost your long-term health with these exercises
  12. Barefoot running shoes
  13. Barriers to fitness
  14. Blood Doping
  15. BMI calculator
  16. Body fat analyzers
  17. Body weight training: Is it effective for strength training?
  18. Body-weight training
  19. Boot camp workout
  20. Why is BVO in my drink?
  21. The role of diet and exercise in preventing Alzheimer's disease
  22. Carbohydrate-loading diet
  23. Core exercises
  24. Cycle your way to better health
  25. Toning shoes
  26. Does fitness trump thinness?
  27. Eating and exercise
  28. Elliptical machines: Better than treadmills?
  29. Energy drinks
  30. Exercise benefits
  31. Exercise and chronic disease
  32. Exercise and illness
  33. Stress relief
  34. Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour
  35. Exercising with arthritis
  36. Exercise: How much do I need?
  37. Exercise intensity
  38. Exercise smarter, not longer
  39. Exercise: Check with your doctor
  40. Exercising: Does taking the stairs count?
  41. Fitness program
  42. Fitness motivation
  43. Fitness ball exercises
  44. Fitness ball exercises videos
  45. Fitness for less
  46. Fitness ideas for the entire family
  47. Fitness program
  48. Fitness training routine
  49. Fitting in fitness
  50. Flat stomach
  51. Fuel your body for everyday performance
  52. Functional fitness training
  53. Walking schedule
  54. Getting in shape after having a baby
  55. Golf injuries
  56. Hate to exercise? Try these tips
  57. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  58. Heart rate
  59. Heat and exercise
  60. Hockey Flywheel
  61. How fit are you?
  62. How much exercise do you really need?
  63. Improve obstructive sleep apnea with physical activity
  64. Interval Training
  65. 3 easy ways to get started with yoga
  66. Isometric exercise
  67. Kids and exercise
  68. Late-day exercise
  69. Marathon and the Heat
  70. Mayo Clinic Minute: How to hit your target heart rate
  71. Vary your cardiovascular workouts
  72. Natural movement: Going back to basics
  73. Nutrition rules that will fuel your workout
  74. Office exercise
  75. Exercise and opioids
  76. Overuse injury prevention
  77. Performance-enhancing drugs: Know the risks
  78. Pilates for beginners
  79. Pregnancy and exercise
  80. Ready to get in on the aquatic fitness movement?
  81. Interval training
  82. Should people with atrial fibrillation participate in physical activity?
  83. Simple tips for staying active and mobile with osteoarthritis
  84. Weight training exercises
  85. Core-strength exercises
  86. Office stretches
  87. Guide to stretches
  88. Aquatic exercises
  89. Balance exercises
  90. Fitness ball
  91. Golf stretches
  92. Stay fit and healthy — without breaking a sweat
  93. Stay fit at any age
  94. Travel and work
  95. Step it up: 7 quick stair exercises to do at home
  96. Strength training basics
  97. Strength training: How-to video collection
  98. Strength training for kids
  99. Strength training
  100. Stretching
  101. Superslow strength training
  102. The best foods to fuel a workout
  103. The best ways to bounce back after a tough workout
  104. The real secret to a healthy heart
  105. 5 common sports injuries in young female athletes
  106. Calories and nutrients to fuel sports performance
  107. Healthy bones for sports and life
  108. Menstrual issues in young female athletes
  109. Sports and the immune system
  110. Staying hydrated
  111. The female athlete triad
  112. The importance of nutrition for female athletes
  113. Young female athletes: Balancing performance with healthy development
  114. To stay fit, embrace the power of play
  115. Fitness tips for business travelers
  116. Tweak your walking routine for muscle and bone health
  117. Abdominal ball raise with fitness ball
  118. Fitness ball bridge with heel dig
  119. How to choose a fitness ball
  120. Reverse crunch with fitness ball
  121. Side exercise with fitness ball
  122. Abdominal crunch
  123. Abdominal crunch with fitness ball
  124. Bent-over row with dumbbell
  125. Bent-over row with resistance tubing
  126. Biceps curl with barbell
  127. Biceps curl with dumbbell
  128. Biceps curl with resistance tubing
  129. Biceps curl with weight machine
  130. Bridge with fitness ball
  131. Calf raise with dumbbell
  132. Chest press with dumbbell
  133. Chest press with weight machine
  134. Hamstring curl with resistance tubing
  135. Hip abduction walk with resistance tubing
  136. How to choose resistance tubing
  137. Knee extension with weight machine
  138. Lat pull-down with weight machine
  139. Lunge exercise
  140. Lying hamstring curl with weight machine
  141. Modified pushup
  142. Plank with fitness ball
  143. Reverse fly with dumbbell
  144. Seated hamstring curl with weight machine
  145. Seated leg press with weight machine
  146. Seated row with resistance tubing
  147. Seated row with weight machine
  148. Squat and reach with fitness ball
  149. Squat exercise
  150. Squat with dumbbell
  151. Squat with resistance tubing
  152. Standing hip abduction with resistance tubing
  153. Step-up exercise
  154. Triceps extension with dumbbell
  155. Triceps extension with weight machine
  156. Triceps kickback with resistance tubing
  157. Walking group
  158. Walking and trackers
  159. Walking poles
  160. Walking shoes
  161. Walking for fitness
  162. Want a strong brain? Exercise!
  163. Daily water requirement
  164. Weight training: Do's and don'ts of proper technique
  165. Weight training equipment
  166. Weight training
  167. Weighted hula hoops: Hoopla or good exercise?
  168. Weightlifting belts
  169. Weightlifting
  170. What is hot yoga?
  171. What it takes to be agile at any age
  172. Whole-body vibration
  173. HIIT at any age
  174. Winter blahs? 4 pro tips to get you off the couch.
  175. Cold-weather exercise
  176. What is Zumba?