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Guidelines for Stretching to Increase Flexibility

The benefits of stretching to increase flexibility are well known, but there are a lot of questions when it comes to the ideal way to stretch. This article attempts to address some of these questions to optimise your stretching program.

How Long Should I Hold a Stretch For?

A stretch should be held for anywhere between 15 and 30 seconds. Studies have shown that any less than this has little effect on improving flexibility and holding a stretch any longer than 30 seconds has no further increase in flexibility.

When Is The Best Time To Stretch?

The best time to stretch is when the muscles and body is warm, such as after exercise or following a general warm-up prior to exercise so there is adequate blood blow around the body.

Does Stretching Reduce My Strength?

Stretching has been shown to decrease strength acutely for up to an hour following stretching. However this is more the case when a stretch is held for longer than 60 seconds. Therefore it is recommended that if stretching is required prior to exercise it should be held for 15 – 30 seconds as this is beneficial at increasing flexibility and won’t compromise performance through loss of strength.

Will Stretching Prevent Muscle Soreness?

Stretching after a workout will not prevent muscle soreness the next day as some people believe. Soreness following intense exercise is actually the result of micro tears in the muscle fibres which are then repaired during recovery, which is how muscle mass and strength is increased.

For more on the benefits of stretching and flexibility please refer to our previous blog post on this topic:

http://www.mdhealth.com.au/flexibility-program-at-md-health/

Written by Jack Hickey
Exercise Physiologist at MD Health

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