Watch Your Neck

Neck circles when your neck is cold can lead to pinched nerves. Stretch slowly and gently in one direction before returning your head to a neutral position and then stretching in a different direction.

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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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Stretching Mistakes

We should be stretching to stay limber and flexible, but if we stretch in a way that overstresses muscles or tendons, we can cause strains or even sprains while stretching.
Not all injuries come as a result of a single, bad stretch, either. Repetitive stretching that’s improperly done can cause injury over time.
Ideally, we should not wait until an injury occurs to begin stretching to relieve the pain or regain mobility. We should stretch every day.
As we age, we begin to lose flexibility and range of motion, especially in the shoulders and low back, which can then lead to other mobility issues.
Fortunately, age-related loss of flexibility can be reversed with a daily stretching program.

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