Stretching and flexibility

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Stretching is an important part of any exercise program. Aerobic and strength training programs work your heart and muscles. Stretching helps your joints move through their full range of motion. This helps them move more freely and helps the muscles work better.

Stretch your major muscle groups after you exercise. This is when your muscles are warmed up. Warmed-up muscles stretch easier and with less injury risk.

If you don't exercise regularly, you may want to stretch a few times a week after a brief warmup to keep your joints moving through their full range of motion.

When you're stretching, be gentle. Breathe freely as you hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. Try not to hold your breath. Don't bounce or hold a stretch that hurts. Expect to feel your muscles get tighter during the stretch. If you feel pain, you've stretched too far.

Doing slow, gentle movements that are like those you use in your physical activity or sport might be helpful. For instance, do practice swings before you play golf or practice serves before you play tennis. This puts your muscles and joints through a range of motion that can get them ready for the workout. This is called dynamic stretching.

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March 29, 2024

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