Proper Stretching Tips
Stretching is an important part of any rehab program during the acute and repair stages of an injury. Stretching is also a necessary part of your overall wellness plan. Your doctor can help you determine which stretches are most appropriate for you. Here are several key considerations and general guidelines to help you get maximum benefit when performing your stretches.
1. Relax. The objective is to relax and gently stretch muscles and soft tissues. Any tension limits the stretch. Gradually feel the tension let go as you perform the stretch.
2. Don't bounce. The idea is to hold the stretch gently. Don't try to force the stretch or bounce; this puts unnecessary stress on the tissues and can cause muscles to tighten as a guarding mechanism.
3. Breathe. Don't hold your breath, but breathe gently and naturally. Muscles will automatically relax more while exhaling. You may find it helpful to inhale through your nose and exhale though your mouth.
4. Hold the stretch long enough. Individual muscles are made up of thousands and thousands of muscle fibers. The fibers take turns working so you must hold the stretch long enough to get maximum benefit. Start with fifteen seconds and gradually increase the time to 60 seconds for most stretches.
5. Understand which muscle group the stretch is for. This may sound simple, but is important. You want to focus on performing the stretch with proper technique and "feeling" the stretch in the appropriate location. Stretching, by definition, should not cause pain.