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How to Stretch
from Stretching in the Office

The right way to stretch

  • Breathe easily
  • Relax
  • Tune into your body
  • Focus on muscles and joints being stretched
  • Feel the stretch
  • Be guided by the feel of the stretch
  • No bouncing!
  • No pain!

The wrong way to stretch

  • Holding your breath
  • Being in a hurry
  • Not being focused on your body
  • Stretching while tense
  • Bouncing
  • Stretching to the point of pain

Two Phases

There are two phases to each stretch: the easy stretch and the developmental stretch. They are done one after the other.

The Easy Stretch

Stretch until you feel a slight mild tension and hold for 5–10 seconds. Relax. As you hold the stretch, the feeling of tension should diminish. If it doesn’t, ease off slightly into a more comfortable stretch. The easy stretch maintains flexibility, loosens muscles and tight tendons, and reduces muscle tension.

The Developmental Stretch

Now, move a fraction of an inch farther into the stretch until you feel mild tension again. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Again, the feeling should diminish or stay the same. If the tension increases or becomes painful, you are overstretching — back off into a more comfortable stretch. The developmental stretch further reduces tension and increases flexibility.

Keep the following points in mind

  • Always stretch within your comfortable limits, never to the point of pain.
  • Breathe slowly, rhythmically and under control. Do not hold your breath.
  • Take your time. The long-sustained, mild stretch reduces unwanted muscle tension and tightness.
  • Do not compare yourself with others. We are all different. Comparisons may lead to overstretching.
  • If you are stretching correctly, the stretch feeling should slightly subside as you hold the stretch.
  • Any stretch that grows in intensity or becomes painful means you are overstretching — the drastic stretch. (See page 13.)

Pay attention to how each stretch feels

Hold only stretch tensions that feel good. Relax while you concentrate on the area being stretched.

Important

  • No bouncing
  • No pain

How far should I stretch?

Your body is different every day. Be guided by how the stretch feels.

Stretching is not exercise!

You are stretching, not exercising. You don’t need to push it. Stretching is a mild, gentle activity.

Give it 2 to 3 weeks for benefits

The benefits come from regularity. Stick with it and see how you feel in a few weeks.

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