Stretching for Fitness

When thinking about fitness, exercises such as running or lifting weights typically come to mind before stretching. However, stretching is an important part of a fitness routine as it helps to decrease your risk of injury while increasing range of motion, blood flow, and overall flexibility for movement.

Although stretching can reduce injury, it can also cause injury if not done properly.  Below are a few quick tips for safe stretching from Enablr’s therapy professionals.

1. Warm Up Before Stretching. 

Walking, swimming, low intensity jogging or biking can warm up muscles so that they stretch more. If you are sprinting or performing a speed based activity, skip the stretching until after the event. Some studies suggest that stretching can reduce speed and performance.

2. Smooth, Not Bouncy.

Bouncing can actually tighten muscles. Strive for gentle and smooth movements.

3. Feel The Stretch, Not Pain.

You should feel the muscle pull but it should not be painful. If it hurts, you are pushing too far.  Back off to where the pain stops and then hold.

4. Hold The Stretch, Not Your Breath. 

Hold a stretching position for at least 30 seconds. Ensure that you are breathing.

5. Keep It Even. Everyone has a different level of flexibility.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your own flexibility. Ensure that your movements are even and symmetrical on each side as more tightness on one side or the other could increase the risk of an injury. Stretch the large muscle groups in your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders.

 

Below are some examples of different stretching positions for larger muscle groups:


Hamstrings

Duration

Hold for 30 seconds and perform 3 times on each leg for optimal results

Possible positions to stretch: 

Standing, Sitting, and Lying Down

Important tips:

Make sure the leg you are stretching stays straight. Bend forward from your hips with a straight back.

Calf 

Duration

Hold for 30 seconds and perform 3 times on each leg for optimal results.

Possible positions: 

Standing or Sitting

Perform with both a straight and bent knee.

Important tips:

Keep your heel on the ground for best stretch.



Hip Flexors

Duration

Hold for 30 seconds and perform 3 times on each leg for optimal results.

Possible positions: 

Standing, Kneeling, Lying Down

Important tips: 


If standing, keep your trunk straight as you lunge into the position. If laying down, do not let your back arch.

Trunk Rotation 

Duration

Perform 20-30 twists to each side using smooth movements.

Possible positions: 

Standing or Sitting

Important tips: 


Always keep your hips and feet stationary and ensure you are twisting from your torso. You can use a broom or stick for visual guidance.

Pecs

Duration:

Hold for 30 seconds, 3 times.

Possible positions: 

Standing, Lying Down, Sitting (if needed).

Important tips:

Do 3 times throughout the day on a daily basis to improve overall posture.

If you or a loved one has an injury or illness that is keeping you from reaching your fitness goals, contact us to speak with an Enablr-licensed professional.

Reference:

Mayo Clinic. (2022, February 12). Stretching: Focus on Flexibility.

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About Enablr Therapy
Enablr Therapy offers speech, occupational, and physical therapy to people of all ages and abilities through our school-based therapy services as well as cash-based services for individual clients. Individual clients can be seen through convenient online sessions in many states across the country.