By Paige Waehner, About.com
Updated: August 23, 2007
About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review BoardThese doctor-designated stretches will relieve joint pain.
Flexibility is important because having flexible muscles allows your joints to move through a full range of motion. You need a certain amount of flexibility to move smoothly, avoid muscle tension and to keep your body protected from injury.
Stretching is one way to keep the body flexible, especially the muscles that are tight as a result of bad posture. Although stretching is typically the most overlooked part of an exercise routine, it's an important one and, for many of us, the best part of the workout.
Why Should You Stretch?
- You'll improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury
- You'll reduce muscle soreness and improve your posture
- You'll help reduce lower back pain
- You'll increase blood and nutrients to the tissues
- You'll improve your coordination
- You'll enjoy exercise more and help reduce stress
How to Stretch
- Your best bet is to stretch after your workout when your muscles are warm and you're ready for a cool down. You don't have to stretch before your workout but, if you do, make sure you do it after the warm up. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury.
- When doing static stretches, don't bounce. Hold a comfortable position until you feel a gentle pull on your muscle. It shouldn't hurt and bouncing could cause you to pull a muscle.
- Try to hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds to get some long-term flexibility benefits.
- You can also stretch between strength training sets and you may want to perform light stretches throughout the day to deal with tight shoulders, neck and lower back.
When you stretch after the workout, try to hit all the muscles you used, paying close attention to any chronically tight areas.
Yoga is another way to stretch your body while also working on balance, endurance and stress relief. Adding yoga to your routine a few times a week is a nice compliment to strength training and cardio, giving you a gentle, soothing way to work your body and mind.
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