The Best and Worst Stretches for You, According to Fitness Trainers

Most of us really don’t make plenty of time to stretch — specifically given that stretching has so quite a few rewards. Not only is it fantastic for your muscular tissues and joints (and feels so great), but stretching also releases endorphins to assistance you take it easy, releases tension and corrects terrible posture. 

I am notorious for obtaining the greatest intentions about stretching some just about every working day, but commonly I only get about to a more time extend session a handful of situations a 7 days. Even though you don’t have to extend for hrs a working day, every person does require to get the job done on flexibility a little bit in purchase to stay clear of discomfort and injuries. There are a ton of stretches and adaptability packages out there, but not all stretches are developed equivalent. In actuality, there are some stretches that trainers downright steer clear of or explain to men and women not to do because you can possibly damage oneself doing them.

In some cases stretching can experience a bit unpleasant (primarily if you are a lot less versatile) but you should not be truly in discomfort even though stretching. Pain is a person signal that a extend is not correct for you, or is far too extreme, but there are also distinct stretches or stretching practices that you really should constantly keep away from, no matter if they lead to you agony or not. Preserve examining beneath for stretching dos and don’ts from two licensed trainers and exercise gurus. 

Stretching dos and don’ts 

Do not: Extend chilly muscle tissue

“Stretching allows you stay clear of injuries, increase variety of motion, lower muscle stiffness and launch tension in the course of the system,” claims ShaNay Norvell, certified coach and writer of Extend Your Pressure Away with ShaNay. On the other hand, timing is critical due to the fact stretching “cold” muscle tissues, or muscle mass that are not warmed up properly, is not a good thought. 

When it will come to stretching, cold muscle tissues are considered risky due to the fact “you can probably strain, pull or tear a muscle if compelled into a stretch without having getting warmed up,” claims Norvell. She likes to evaluate stretching cold muscular tissues to a frozen rubber band. “That rubber band, if immediately pulled or tugged, could snap or split. Nevertheless if a rubber band is heat it can be tugged or pulled and go with increased relieve. The rubber band would nevertheless have boundaries, however it would have increased range of motion warm,” she explains.

“At a minimum I would advocate consumers do a 7- to 10-minute walk on a treadmill, elliptical or stationary bicycle” just before stretching, Norvell suggests.   

A young woman doing a lunge stretch pose outdoors

A going for walks lunge extend is a person case in point of a dynamic stretch you can do once you are warmed up.

Getty Pictures

Do: Try out dynamic stretches

Norvell endorses dynamic stretches, or stretches that you do in movement, at the commencing of your exercise (right after the warmup, of training course). “These stretches will typically be to put together you for your movements in your exercise routine,” claims Norvell. 

A single of the rewards of dynamic stretches is that they are much more controlled actions that “really don’t force the entire body beyond its selection of motion applying bouncy movement,” states Heather Marr, licensed trainer. Examples of dynamic stretches consist of arm circles, walking lunges and leg swings, in accordance to Marr.

Do not: Do ballistic stretches 

Ballistic stretches are a form of stretching that utilizes “immediate, jerky repetitive movements to develop a quickly, higher degree of stress inside of the muscle mass,” claims Marr. She won’t recommend ballistic stretches for most individuals considering the fact that they can be forceful and make you thrust earlier your personal vary of movement, which can guide to muscle mass or tendon accidents.

“Illustrations of some widespread ballistic stretches involve bobbing up and down to contact your toes, the ballistic butterfly extend and the [ballistic] trunk lifter. I will not endorse any of these stretches for the average human being,” states Marr. How you do these stretches is crucial, given that both the butterfly and trunk carry can be done properly as a static movement instead of as ballistic movement. 

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Do: Static stretches after your workout

Static stretches are stretches that you hold for a period of time, while the muscle is extended, says Marr. Examples of static stretches include an overhead tricep stretch, a wall bicep stretch and a stacked-leg glute stretch.

“I would recommend [holding the stretches for] 20 to 30 seconds,” says Norvell. You should do static stretches when your body is warmed up, ideally at the end of your workout. “The end of the workout is a great time to stretch because typically your muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments throughout your body are warmed and ready for safe movement,” she says.

The 3 stretches you should probably avoid

While everyone is different, the stretches shown below are examples of moves that trainers advise most people to avoid due to potential pain or injury risk. 

A group of young women doing a side split stretch

A split stretch can be dangerous if you’re not warmed up or trained to do them properly.

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Split stretch: Even if you’ve been able to do a split in the past, Norvell doesn’t suggest trying to jump back into it. “There are many people who have fond memories of being flexible and doing the splits with ease,” she says. However, just because you had that flexibility and range of motion at one time doesn’t mean that you necessarily kept it or will keep it.  “There are some people who will try to go into a split just to see where their flexibility is. This is still dangerous without warming up thoroughly,” says Norvell.

A young woman doing a middle split stretch

The straddle stretch is difficult for beginners and can injure you if you’re body’s not ready for it.

Getty Images

Straddle stretch: The same logic as for a split stretch applies to the straddle stretch. “This stretch is putting both the groin, hip flexors and all inner thigh muscles in position to tighten to protect itself if your body isn’t ready. This can leave you in a worse position than when you started,” says Norvell.

Hurdler stretch: Norvell says the hurdler stretch should be saved for people who are actually preparing for a hurdler race. Outside of that, she says the stretch can be dangerous. “I have seen gym members over the years or people preparing to run in the park lay down in the hurdler position. This is typically one leg forward and one leg bent backwards.  This is dangerous if your knee and hips are not properly aligned and can cause severe muscle strain,” she explains.

Norvell’s recommended stretches to do instead of the ones above:

Want more fitness recommendations? Try these eight workouts that trainers recommend you try and these exercises that will help you relieve stress

More for your wellness:

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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