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.

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April 08, 2022

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