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Published on August 19, 2016

woman stretching in sunlight

Make the Most of Your Stretches

Stretching — it’s something everyone should do but most people ignore.

Regular stretching reduces muscle tension and improves circulation and can improve posture by increasing your range of motion, strength and flexibility.

Staci Wietfeld, DPT, OCS, a Physical Therapist at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, urges you to follow these tips:

  • Prior to beginning your exercise, start with a gentle warm-up such as walking for 5 minutes. Then slowly increase your intensity as your muscles feel comfortable. Doing one or two stretching exercises after your warm up is a good idea if you have an area that feels a little more tight.
  • Stretching again after you have finished your regular strength and cardio exercises is a good idea. When your muscles are warmed up from activity they are more flexible.
  • If you are unable to do strength and cardio exercise, do stretching or Range of Motion exercises at least three times a week for 20 minutes each session. Even if you are just doing a stretching routine, it would still be a good idea to warm up with a little walking before you start.
  • A good stretching program includes stretches for the muscles of the chest, shoulders, hips, buttocks, hamstrings, calf and back.
  • Slowly stretch the desired position. Stretch to tightness but not pain. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds before relaxing. Repeat, trying to stretch a little farther if you can. Do each stretch two or three times, switching from right side to left side as you go.

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