How to Stretch
from Stretching in the Office
The right way to stretch
- Breathe easily
- 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
- Stretching to the point of pain
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 510 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.
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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