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Runner grabbing their foor stretching leg muscles

Stretching 101

Stretching can introduce many benefits to your physical health. Not only does stretching increase flexibility, but stretching also reduces muscle tension and soreness, reduces the risk of injury to the tendons, joints and muscles, enhances body awareness and increases the ability to perform skilled movements.

But, are you stretching correctly? While there are lots of benefits to stretching, if done incorrectly, it can cause injury. Make sure to keep the following tips in mind when stretching.

  • Warm up – People think stretching is the warm-up, but a lot of times a deep stretch should not be the first thing you do. Before going into an intense stretch, do a general warm-up to get those muscles working!
  • Breathe – Make sure you are breathing during your stretches. Slow and relaxed breaths during your stretch allow the body to relax, improve blood flow and remove lactic acid from the muscles.
  • Dynamic stretches vs. static stretches – Focus on dynamic stretching (stretching while moving) during your warm-up. This will prepare your muscles for your main activity. Static stretching can be done after your workout to maintain flexibility and decrease next-day soreness.

If you feel sharp pain, stop! There’s a difference between the ache of tight muscles and sharp or intense pain that can indicate injury, like torn tissue.

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