It's common knowledge that stretching your muscles can have positive benefits, but when and how you stretch matters more than you think. Here's a simple guide on what to focus on when stretching, as well as what to avoid.
- Stretch after workouts. Stretching muscles you've just trained encourages their growth.
- Hold stretches for 20 to 30 seconds. You'll forces the muscles to relax.
- Stretch chronically tight areas often. Most people have very tight hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors, so spend more time on those areas.
- Stretch before workouts. It can weaken your muscles for lifting.
- Stretch in a rapid motion. Pushing yourself into position quickly and then "bouncing" back is dangerous.
- Stretch injured muscles. Even if it feels good, you may make the damage worse.