Wednesday, April 7, 2010

All About Stretching

Here are some important points about stretching! I hope this will help to clear up any myths about stretching and answer other questions you may have about the subject.

1. Stretching does not prevent injury or soreness. I repeat, stretching does not prevent injury or soreness. Microscopic tears in the muscle cause muscles soreness and only time can heal those tears. Injury is injury. If you injure yourself, stretching will not reverse this.

2. According to research, stretching will not improve your performance in sport.

3. Stretching will improve and maintain flexibility. This is very important, because as we age, we tend to lose this important ability. Some elderly people have difficulty reaching into cabinets and performing simple tasks. This could be improved or prevented with stretching exercises.

4. Stretching should never be performed when your muscles are cold because this could result in injury. In other words, do not stretch before exercising! If you want to stretch after a warm-up, that is perfectly fine. Otherwise, save your stretching for post-exercise.

5. Stretching should not hurt. Yes, you may feel some discomfort, but not pain.

6. Some studies show that stretches should be held for a minimum of 10 seconds and others indicate 30 to 90 seconds. If you are just starting a stretching program, my advice is to start with 10 seconds and gradually increase to at least 30 seconds. There is not much benefit in holding it longer than 90 seconds.

7. You should perform 2 to 4 sets of each stretch.

8. Stretching should be done a minimum of 2 to 3 days per week; however, 5 to 7 days is ideal.

9. You do not have to stretch every muscle each day that you stretch. You can pick a few each time and rotate through different muscles on different days of the week.

10. There are many different types of stretching; however, static stretching is appropriate for most people. That means that you hold each stretch without movement.



  1. #4 is particularly interesting. In high school sports, we'd always jog before stretching as a warm-up, but I think this is a fact that's easy to forget.

  2. When I went to PT last year, my therapist always had me warm up by using a machine that I pedaled with my arms instead of feet...can't remember what it is called. Anyway, I always did that before any of the other stretching exercises. Good to know the science behind that practice.