There’s a reason your dog stretches out after waking up. Stretching is one of the best ways to increase flexibility, reduce pain, and help you move more freely— and the morning is one of the best times to do it.
That’s because, after sleeping in the same position for several hours, it can get your blood flowing again, and helps lengthen your contracted muscles. It doesn’t have to take long. Science has shown that for most people, performing several stretches for 15 to 30 seconds repeated two to four times can be beneficial.
Types of Stretches
There are several different ways to stretch.
- Static Stretching is the most basic form. It involves extending your muscle to its full range of motion and holding it there for 10 to 30 seconds. It is helpful in improving your overall soft tissue flexibility.
- Dynamic Stretching takes more coordination. This involves stretching repeatedly through a smooth range of motion 10 to 12 times to increase mobility. This also helps with your balance and control.
- Passive Stretching relies on an external force – such as a stretching device, or your own gravity – to hold a stretch.
- Active Stretching happens when you contract one muscle to stretch another without help from an external force. This can require more strength to do, but comes with a lower risk of injury.
If you’re just getting started, test out one of these basic stretches for size.
Stretching Best Practices
Stretching can be a warm-up activity before a serious workout. Dynamic stretching is best for activities requiring a lot of running and jumping. But if you’re about to enter a dance or gymnastics class, static stretching may be a better fit.
It may be tempting to force a stretch to attempt to increase your flexibility, especially when passively stretching. Listen to your body and take care to make sure the external force is not stronger than you are flexible.
If you already have an injury, stretching can be a great method for rehabilitation. Partner with our physicians to find the best therapy to get you back to performing your best.