Four stretching dos and don’ts

Stretching is one of the most best things people can do for themselves each day, but very often it’s not done correctly. Or done even at all.
Here are some stretching dos and don’ts to help you go through life feeling more flexible.

Don’t stretch before workouts
A full stretching routine before a workout routine begins is basically a waste of time and energy. Don’t try to do an all-out stretching routine when you’re just starting a workout! The body will be cold and results will be greatly reduced.
Do some general, very light stretching for a few minutes, get in about 5-10 minutes of light walking, biking or jogging and THEN spend 5-10 minutes doing a complete stretch.
Avoid bouncing or jerking, instead slowly stretch your muscles to the endpoint of movement and hold the stretch for about 10 to 30 seconds. Senior citizens, people with injuries or other special situations may need to take precautions.
Make sure to stretch again after the workout.

Do stretch often
Throughout a workout and even through the day make sure to stretch. It’s not enough to just do one real good stretch during or after a workout.
Even at work, take a break about every 1 1-2 hours to get up and move around and lightly stretch.

Don’t overstretch
Most trainers say to hold a stretch for no longer than 30 seconds at a time. You’re not likely to get badly injured stretching, but it is possible to slightly tear muscle fibers if you push too hard.
If you feel mild pain or discomfort be careful and don’t over-do a stretch too far past that point. Also, as mentioned above, don’t bounce while stretching.

Do focus on problem areas
You should try to get a good overall stretch every time, but you should also focus in on problem areas.
Your body will tell you during the course of a day and even a stretching session which areas are the tightest. By concentrating on tighter areas you can help alleviate the problems and oftentimes even prevent injury down the road.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at