Stretching and flexibility

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Stretching is an important part of any exercise program. Most aerobic and strength training programs involve tightening and contraction of your muscles.

Stretching after you exercise helps your joints move through their full range of motion and boosts muscle blood flow.

As a general rule, stretch your major muscle groups after you exercise. In some studies, performing static stretching right before an athletic event has been shown to decrease athletic performance.

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.

Doing movements similar to those in your specific sport or physical activity (dynamic stretching) at a low level may be a helpful complement to static stretching and may help improve athletic performance.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

April 08, 2022

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. Air pollution and exercise
  9. Ankle weights for fitness walkers
  10. Barefoot running shoes
  11. Blood Doping
  12. Body fat analyzers
  13. Body-weight training: Is it effective for strength training?
  14. Body-weight training
  15. Boot camp workout
  16. Why is BVO in my drink?
  17. Can I exercise if I have atopic dermatitis?
  18. Carbohydrate-loading diet
  19. Core exercises
  20. Eating and exercise
  21. Elliptical machines: Better than treadmills?
  22. Exercise benefits
  23. Exercise and chronic disease
  24. Exercise and illness
  25. Stress relief
  26. Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour
  27. Exercising with arthritis
  28. Exercise: How much do I need?
  29. Exercise intensity
  30. Exercise: Check with your doctor
  31. Exercising: Does taking the stairs count?
  32. Fitness program
  33. Fitness motivation
  34. Fitness ball exercises videos
  35. Fitness for less
  36. Fitness program
  37. Fitness training routine
  38. Fuel your body for everyday performance
  39. Walking schedule
  40. Getting in shape after having a baby
  41. Golf injuries
  42. Hate to exercise? Try these tips
  43. Heart rate
  44. Heat and exercise
  45. Hockey Flywheel
  46. How fit are you?
  47. Interval Training
  48. Isometric exercise
  49. Kids and exercise
  50. Marathon and the Heat
  51. BMI and waist circumference calculator
  52. Mayo Clinic Minute: How to hit your target heart rate
  53. Vary your cardiovascular workouts
  54. Nutrition rules that will fuel your workout
  55. Exercise and opioids
  56. Overuse injury prevention
  57. Performance-enhancing drugs: Know the risks
  58. Pregnancy and exercise
  59. Interval training
  60. Weight training exercises
  61. Core-strength exercises
  62. Office stretches
  63. Guide to stretches
  64. Aquatic exercises
  65. Balance exercises
  66. Fitness ball
  67. Golf stretches
  68. Travel and work
  69. Strength training basics
  70. Strength training: How-to video collection
  71. Strength training for kids
  72. Strength training
  73. Stretching
  74. Abdominal ball raise with fitness ball
  75. Fitness ball bridge with heel dig
  76. How to choose a fitness ball
  77. Reverse crunch with fitness ball
  78. Side exercise with fitness ball
  79. Abdominal crunch
  80. Abdominal crunch with fitness ball
  81. Bent-over row with dumbbell
  82. Bent-over row with resistance tubing
  83. Biceps curl with barbell
  84. Biceps curl with dumbbell
  85. Biceps curl with resistance tubing
  86. Biceps curl with weight machine
  87. Bridge with fitness ball
  88. Calf raise with dumbbell
  89. Chest press with dumbbell
  90. Chest press with weight machine
  91. Hamstring curl with resistance tubing
  92. Hip abduction walk with resistance tubing
  93. How to choose resistance tubing
  94. Knee extension with weight machine
  95. Lat pull-down with weight machine
  96. Lunge exercise
  97. Lying hamstring curl with weight machine
  98. Modified pushup
  99. Plank with fitness ball
  100. Reverse fly with dumbbell
  101. Seated hamstring curl with weight machine
  102. Seated leg press with weight machine
  103. Seated row with resistance tubing
  104. Seated row with weight machine
  105. Squat and reach with fitness ball
  106. Squat exercise
  107. Squat with dumbbell
  108. Squat with resistance tubing
  109. Standing hip abduction with resistance tubing
  110. Step-up exercise
  111. Triceps extension with dumbbell
  112. Triceps extension with weight machine
  113. Triceps kickback with resistance tubing
  114. Walking and trackers
  115. Walking for fitness
  116. Daily water requirement
  117. Weight training: Do's and don'ts of proper technique
  118. Weight training equipment
  119. Weight training
  120. Weighted hula hoops: Hoopla or good exercise?
  121. Weightlifting belts
  122. What is hot yoga?
  123. Whole-body vibration
  124. Cold-weather exercise