Stretching is not exciting; at least not when you call it that. Maybe calling it “yoga” makes it seem a little more exciting.
Of course, not everyone has the time to do a full yoga routine. I get that. But even a little bit of stretching every day can help improve joint health and flexibility to boost mobility and reduce the chance of injury.
But how often should you stretch? When should you stretch? And how should you stretch?
There isn’t a ton of data on this stuff, but some evidence may help answer those questions.
Doing some form of flexibility exercises like stretching, yoga, or tai chi for all major muscle and tendon groups (neck, shoulders, trunk, lower back, hips, legs, ankles) should be done at least two or three times per week.
Spending 60 seconds on each stretching move is optimal. That doesn’t mean you have to hold a particular stretch for a minute, though. If you can hold it for 15 seconds, repeat it three more times. If you can hold it for 20, do it twice more. You get the idea.
If you’re performing some type of aerobic or resistance exercise, you’ll want to stretch afterwards instead of before. Stretching before can increase the risk of injury while doing it after can help with blood flow and prevent post-workout stiffness and pain.
Instead of stretching to warm up, just walk, perform warmup sets, or something else to get your blood flowing.
Stretch within your comfort zone. Do not force movements you can’t make. Over time, you will become more flexible and limber.
Stretching can help improve your range of motion and reduce the risk of injury. It can also help you move better. If you’re interested in healthy joints and mobility, stretching is certainly an activity worth including in your routine.