Stretching guide

This article will guide you through the important aspects of stretching. We will cover the benefits, reasons and techniques, as well as giving links to other websites for more information.
The most important message is to START participating in exercise, whatever your level of fitness or ability, in order to make a positive change in your life.

What is stretching?

Stretching is the deliberate lengthening of muscles in order to increase your muscle flexibility and range of joint motion. In everyday life regular stretching can improve and maintain a healthy range of movement of your joints. For those of you taking exercise it can help to warm up the body prior to activity and afterwards may decrease the risk of injury and muscle soreness.

What are the benefits of stretching?

  • Increased flexibility and range of motion : Flexible muscles improve daily performance even in normal everyday tasks. Flexibility tends to diminish as you get older but with regular activity and stretching you can regain and maintain it.

  • Improved circulation : Stretching increases blood flow to muscles which brings nourishment and helps to remove the waste products that can cause muscle soreness. This can help recovery time after activity or injury.

  • Improved posture : Regular stretching helps to prevent muscle tightness allowing you to maintain a better posture. Good posture in turn helps to reduce discomfort and the regular aches and pains that many people experience at work or during other activities.

  • Stress relief : Stretching helps to relaxthe tight and tense muscles that often accompany stress.

  • Improved co-ordination : Maintaining full range of motion through your joints keeps you in better balance. You will be more mobile and less prone to falls, especially as you get older.

How often should I stretch?

Stretching should be partof your daily routine, unless you are ill , injured or have been advised against certain stretches by a medical professional. You will benefit regardless of your age, sex or level of fitness. You could start slowly and safely with just 10 minutes a day while watching TV or before relaxing for the evening. Stretching during your working day and before and after exercise will all be covered in the following sections.

How do I stretch safely?

Specific stretching exercises and routines will be covered in detail later, but some basic guidelines will always apply: 

  1. Try to start with a gentle aerobic warm up to increase blood flow to the muscles. Arm circles, hip rotations marching or jogging on the spot are all suitable for this.

  2. Always stretch in a slow and relaxed manner, DO NOT BOUNCE.

  3. Only stretch to the point of mild tension. Stop if the stretch feels painful.

  4. Hold each stretch for a minimum of 10 seconds without bouncing, then repeat 2 or 3 times relaxing between each repetition .Try to stretch a little further each time, but only to the point of mild tension.

  5. Stretch for longer after exercise and spend more time on any muscles that feel tight.

  6. Breathe slowly and naturally while stretching, DO NOT hold your breath.

How do I go about stretching?

We would like you to consider 3 basic types of stretching routine, click on the links below for details on each type of routine:

Gentle stretching at work or in a chair at home will help to improve your posture, relieve muscle tension and stress.

Dynamic stretching is the best way to warm up before exercise.

Static stretching will help to improve muscle and joint flexibility at any age when used regularly. It is also the best way to stretch after exercise to maintain range of motion and may help to reduce delayed muscle soreness.


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© 2012 7futures Ltd. Please note that, at 7Futures, our role is to help educate and encourage our clients to take positive responsibility for their wellbeing. We are not medical doctors and are not able to offer individual medical advice. We always recommend you should discuss with your GP or other medical professional before making any changes you hope will impact your wellbeing, or that of your current/future family.  7Futures Ltd offers generic information which is for educational purposes only. The information we provided is not a prescription system and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. As such our materials, videos products and communications are for general information purposes only and should not be read as a personal recommendation for specific changes in lifestyle behaviour, nutrition, or exercise. Please click here for a clear description of our services and the relationship with you as a client. You should not participate in any of our services until you have studied this is for your benefit.

Mark Davies