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8 Tips for Proper Stretching Techniques

Feb 1, 2010

Those just beginning stretching techniques may want a few pointers. Many beginners seek help from pro trainers or others to figure out an optimal strategy for injury-free stretching. Here are some of the most common recommendations for developing a good set of stretching exercises for your fitness routine.

  1. Start Small - The general rule is to begin with a shorter range of motion and a shorter set of exercises, building up progressively to help your body ramp up response, rather than jolting it into action.
  2. Use Controlled, Steady Movements - The key to good stretching is smooth, steady incremental movements. Don't let impatience or other emotional aspects lead you into jerky, chaotic and uncontrolled stretching. Focus on the way that you move from a loose position to a tighter one, taking care to support your body by making slow and controlled changes.
  3. Recognize Range of Motion Limitations - In most cases, your body is going to tell you if you're taking a stretch beyond its natural limits. Pay attention to minor pains or other responses to a stretching movement, and adjust as necessary.
  4. Keep Your Activities Reasonable - A good stretching routine as a warm up and cool down can help with activities like running, weight training or other power workout exercises. However, an additional tip is to use the same incremental approach to the main course of your fitness session. That means extending running distances by less than a mile at a time, or increasing weight loads by less than 10 or 15 pounds per session.
  5. Cut Dangerous Stretches - Some stretching activities are inherently less safe than others. In order to avoid a stretching injury, fitness experts often recommend cutting out the more aggressive stretches, such as fence stepping stretches, which can easily overstrain your leg muscles.
  6. Promote Holistic Stretching - A good controlled psychology is often a valuable aid to a stretching routine. This includes controlled breathing and focus on a serene mindset while involved in the stretching activity. Many trainers contend that holistic stretching can help improve the overall results of a warm up to a workout session.
  7. Consult a Doctor after Surgery - Although stretching can be a good tool for rehabilitation, that's only if it works according to the specific therapeutic goals that post-surgical patients will often take home with them. If there's any ambiguity about what's good for your post-surgery fitness sessions, ask your doctor specifically about how to incorporate stretching and other exercises.
  8. Customize Stretching for Your Specific Goals - Generalized stretching is great for many routines, but for training sessions that apply to specific sports, it's a good idea to try to customize stretching relative to the muscle groups that you will primarily use. Whether it's tennis, boxing, golf, football, gymnastics or any other "pro" activity, try to anticipate which muscle areas will need the most care, and focus on providing them with more support and flexibility with targeted stretching.

The above tips can help improve how the beginner is able to craft their pre- or post-workout stretching techniques.

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