Writer: KAREN ASP | Outlet: Yahoo
Love it or hate it, stretching is a vital part of having a healthy, fit body, and it’s crucial if you want to stay active your whole life. “If you want to enjoy fitness for your entire life, then stretching is the key,” says Matthew Morris, a certified personal trainer and master fitness programmer at Burn Boot Camp in Cornelius, N.C.
Stretching not only increases your flexibility and range of motion, but it will also improve your performance in workouts and all physical activity. By stretching, you increase blood flow to your muscles and even help relieve stress and calm your mind, and it’s one of the best ways to ward off injury. “Regular stretching is one of the most important keys to preventing injuries during normal everyday activities as well as health and fitness programs,” says Michael Pappas, PT, the CEO and cofounder of Pappas Physical and Hand Therapy in Providence, R.I.
But as with any sort of fitness move or activity, proper form matters. Even if you have the best intentions, when done incorrectly, stretching can have the opposite effect: either hampering your performance goals or putting you at greater risk of injury. Experts break down seven of the most common mistakes people make when trying to get loose—and the right way to stretch instead.
- Performing static (or held) stretches before you exercise.
- Thinking you need to feel pain in order to benefit.
- Not holding a stretch long enough.
- Holding your breath as you stretch.
- Using incorrect technique.
- Bouncing while stretching.
- Stretching an injured muscle.