Balance Your Exercise with Your Stretches

If you lift weights, for example, and you push weights that cause your shoulders to roll forward, then you should balance that exercise with a stretch that stretches your shoulders backward.
 
The general rule is, to to the front as you would do to the back, and do to the left as you would do to the right.
 
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It’s a Mistake to Stretch Only When You Exercise

Try to make stretching a part of your daily routine. You don’t need a special space or exercise clothing to be able to stretch effectively. Spend a few minutes stretching your hamstrings, shoulders, lower back and neck, and you’ll see your flexibility improve quickly.
 
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Don’t Bounce

Bouncing stretches are a recipe for muscle tears.
 
Windmill toe touches are also bad because you’re bending and rotating at the same time. Either bend or rotate during a stretch, not both.
 
The old “hurdler’s stretch” where you put one leg out in front and the other leg behind you, is out as well. That stretch causes stress in the ligaments of your knee.
 
It’s better to put both legs out in front, and stretch toward your toes gently, or if you only want to stretch one leg, keep the other leg in front, rather than behind you.
 
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No Pain, No Gain, Right?

When it comes to stretching, it’s wrong! Stretch slowly and gently within what’s comfortable. It’s OK to feel mild tension within your muscles and joints, but don’t push past a mild pull.

If you have discomfort in your neck, back, shoulders or knees while you stretch, lessen the stretch until it’s comfortable.

If the discomfort continues even with a mild stretch, a neuromuscular massage therapist can help you regain your flexibility.

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Don’t Stretch When Your Muscles are Cold

Cold muscles are tight and don’t have much stretch in them. Instead, warm up for five minutes or more before you stretch any muscle that you hold.

A little light running, a few minutes warming up in the sun, or even a warm bath will be enough to get your muscles moving and active before you stretch.

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Don’t Hold Your Breath While You Stretch

Your muscles need oxygen throughout the stretch so take good deep, slow breaths as you stretch.

Holding your breath can also raise blood pressure. Simple stretches such as shoulder rolls don’t require that you hold them, but other stretches such as quadriceps stretches should be held for at least 20 seconds. 60 seconds is even better.

Remember to breathe throughout the stretch.

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