Getting Started With Flexibility and Stretching

Overview

Flexibility means being able to move your joints and muscles through their full range of motion. As you become more flexible, you will find it easier to reach things on high shelves, look under a bed, or even tie your shoes. You will also have a better sense of balance and coordination.

It's best to warm your muscles a bit before you stretch them. Walk or do some other light aerobic activity for a few minutes, and then start stretching.

  • Stretch all your major groups of muscles.

    These include the muscles of your arms, your back, your hips, the front and back of your thighs, and your calves.

    When you stretch your muscles:

    • Do it slowly. Stretching is not about going fast or making sudden movements.
    • Don't push or bounce during a stretch.
    • Hold each stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds, if you can. You should feel a stretch in the muscle, but not pain.
    • Breathe out as you do the stretch. Then breathe in as you hold the stretch. Don't hold your breath.
  • Start slowly, and increase your efforts bit by bit.

    You can measure your progress with flexibility by noticing how much farther you can do each stretch. Can you stretch farther each day than you could when you started? If so, your flexibility is getting better.

Do your stretching and flexibility exercises in addition to your aerobic and strength-building exercises.

Credits

Current as of: January 26, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine