Most people think they know how to stretch, but some habits could be doing more harm than good. Check out the latest recommendations about stretching safely along with tips for improving flexibility with less risk of injury.
If you’re still using ballistic stretching as a warm up, you may want to switch to techniques that could extend your range of motion further with less discomfort. Experts now believe that static and dynamic stretches are better for most people. Compared to ballistic or bouncing moves, these methods emphasize gradual stretches that will feel so good you’ll want to practice more often.
Dynamic stretches use controlled movements to increase your heart rate without holding the end position. They make a great warm up in themselves. All you have to do is start out with slower and smaller versions of the activities you’ll be doing in your main workout session. That may mean raising your knees high for a few minutes of marching steps before taking a run or doing shoulder presses through a full range of motion with a very low weight.
Static stretches like you see in yoga are excellent for increasing flexibility. Extend into any stretching pose gradually. Pushing yourself so hard that you create pain is dangerous and counterproductive. Your muscles will actually contract to try to protect themselves. Plus, any scar tissue you accumulate will make you stiffer than when you started out.
With static stretches, the emphasis is on finding the point where you feel a slight resistance and then holding the position for as much as two minutes. Focus on your breath. Try easing back a little as you inhale and extending further as you exhale.
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