BASIC RULES ABOUT STRETCHING
NO BOUNCING: Hold a static stretch to build up soft tissue tension so change occurs in tissue length. Bouncing can tear tissues or cause injuries in other affected areas.
NO PAIN: Stretching should not cause a sensation of discomfort; sharp pain, particularly, indicates that the muscle is being stretched too far.
DO NOT HOLD THE BREATH: Relax, breathe slowly and rhythmically, and focus on the muscles when stretching. Lengthen and stretch the muscle tissue upon exhalation.
KNOW WHAT AREA NEEDS TO BE STRETCHED AND WHY: Each individual requires different areas of flexibility. Assessments are helpful to recognize the tight, unstable areas, and appropriate stretches need to be prescribed. Maintain a balance between stretching and strengthening exercises to insure joint stability, minimizing the chance of joint injury.
WATCH FOR MUSCLE SUBSTITUTION: Be specific on the muscle group being stretched. Make sure that compensatory muscle groups are not overpowering.
GENERAL STRETCHING TIPS : Stretching the muscle groups is only beneficial when done correctly. Just as there is more than one way to achieve a set goal, there is more than one stretch to enhance flexibility. Based upon our experiences, gradual, slow, sustained stretches, reaching away, using correct technique prevents injuries from occurring. Stretch to the point of moderate tension and maintain the stretch for a minimum of 30 – 45 seconds, preferably 45 seconds – 1 ½ minutes. Relax for 5 – 10 seconds between stretches and repeat on the other side. Spend additional time stretching muscles that are chronically tight. Perform 2 – 3 sets per stretch, time permitting, repeating the stretch on the same muscle group. Once the body is warmed up, stretches may be held for longer periods of time.