10 Stretching Do's and Don'ts

  • Man and woman walking
    DO: Warm Up
    Warm up before you stretch so that muscles, tendons, and ligaments stretch more easily. Try light activity, such as walking and pumping your arms. Spend at least five to 10 minutes warming up. Painful injuries can happen when you stretch cold muscles.
  • Taking a shower
    DO: Stretch After a Shower...
    Or bath if you don’t have time to warm up. Your body temperature will be higher, so muscles will be more pliable.
  • Holding a stretch
    DO: Hold Each Stretch
    Hold each stretch 10 to 30 seconds. Let the muscle lengthen slowly—don’t force it. Do two to four repetitions of each stretch.
  • Couple stretching before exercise
    DON'T: Stretch to the Point of Pain
    It’s normal to feel a pulling sensation or mild discomfort.
  • Man stretching legs on fence
    DON'T: Bounce the Stretch
    This isn’t as effective and shortens muscles instead of lengthening them.
  • people stretching
    DON'T: Force a Stretch Marathon
    Sure, ideally the American Council on Exercise recommends 30 minutes of stretching three times a week. But even five minutes is better than nothing.
  • Woman waking up
    DO: Put Stretching First
    Stretch first thing in the morning to jump-start your day.
  • Yoga
    DO: Take Yoga or Tai Chi
    These classes improve flexibility and will help you stick to a stretching schedule.
  • Man lifting weights
    DON'T: Confuse Your Fitness Goals
    Flexibility is an important part of overall fitness. But stretches alone don’t help you get stronger or build your endurance.
  • woman-stretching-on-exercise-mat
    DO: Stretch if Your Muscles Hurt
    Some studies have suggested that stretching can relieve muscle soreness. However, a recent review found that stretching before or after exercise doesn’t prevent post-exercise muscle soreness in the first place.
10 Stretching Do's and Don'ts
  1. Herbert RD, de Noronha M. Stretching to Prevent or Reduce Muscle Soreness After Exercise (Review). The Cochrane Library. 2007(4):1-25.
  2. Rubini E.C. et al. The Effects of Stretching on Strength Performance. Sports Medicine. 2007;37(3):213-24.
  3. Exercises to Try. National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exercise/stretchingexercises/02.html
  4. Exercises to Try. National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exercise/stretchingexercises/03.html
  5. Exercises to Try. National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exercise/stretchingexercises/08.html
  6. Flexible Benefits. American Council on Exercise. http://www.acefitness.org/fitfacts/fitfacts_display.aspx?itemid=2610
  7. Getting in Shape for Winter Sports. President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.fitness.gov/popular/2002/getting_in_shape.html
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 3
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.