How To Move Without Pain

Muscle Stretching Do's and Don'ts

by Meghan Griech, PT, DPT, cert MDT, CKTP

This article takes 6 minutes to read


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Improving muscle flexibility is rarely a goal that most people have in mind when getting into a new health routine, yet flexibility is important for proper muscle function and strength.

Often lack of flexibility of our muscles and connective tissues can lead to issues with joint movement or functioning.

You’ve heard it before – ”use it or lose it” – that goes for muscle flexibility too.  In order for your muscle length to improve, or even stay at its current length, you need to develop a consistent routine.  You brush your teeth every day, it’s time you stretch every day too.

Stretching Dos and Don’ts

To make sure you always stretch safely and effectively, check out this list of do’s and don’ts for stretching. Stretching doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and doing it properly will make it more effective, reduce risk of injury, and improve your ability to stick with a routine.

Stretching ‘Dos’

  • Warm up prior to stretching the muscle
  • Relax your whole body, not just the muscle being stretched
  • Breathe – focus on gently inhaling and exhaling
  • Count slowly to make sure you are holding the stretch long enough
  • Hold each stretch for a minimum of 20-30 seconds
  • Stretch both sides
  • Rest and then repeat

Stretching ‘Don’ts’

  • Don’t try to stretch cold muscles 
  • Don’t just stretch statically before your workout
  • Don’t bounce or rock while holding a stretch
  • Don’t count fast – stretching takes a period of time in one position to improve flexibility
  • Don’t hold your breath
  • Don’t only stretch only one side and not the other
  • Don’t cause pain/strain/shooting sensations – stretching should be comfortable

Incorrect stretching can lead to muscle strains which could be more detrimental than not stretching at all. Flexibility is easy to achieve when completed regularly.

Do your muscles, joints, and really your whole body a favor and start a stretching routine today.

*Disclaimer: All information in this article is intended for instruction and informational purposes. The author(s) are not responsible for any harm or injury that may result.  This information is used to supplement not replace any advice you were provided from your doctor or another medical health professional.  No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied with this article.

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