Stretch it out

Tips for getting loose

There’s some debate as to whether stretching prevents injuries, but the benefits to athletic performance, flexibility and stress relief are undeniable. Here’s how to see for yourself:

Get warm, then loose: Warm up to stretch by jogging or riding a stationary bike. Stretching cold muscles may cause injury.

Try static stretching: Stretch through a muscle’s full range of movement until you feel resistance or mild discomfort. It should feel good, never painful.

Do it a lot: Stretch for 10 to 20 minutes at least three times a week to maintain flexibility. Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.

Don’t bounce: Stretching should be gradual and relaxed. When reaching for your toes, hold at the point of resistance rather than “bouncing” to reach farther.

Finish workouts with a stretch: Prevent your muscles from tightening up too quickly by stretching after lifting weights or going for a run.