How do I Choose the Best Stretching Routine?

B. Miller

A stretching routine can be a very beneficial daily practice, helping to improve one's mood, flexibility, and strength. It is important to choose the best stretching routine for you, not only because it will be the most effective, but because you will be more likely to stick with it. Begin by considering the amount of time per day you have to devote to stretching, as well as what you hope to gain from the practice.

A woman stretching.
A woman stretching.

It is best to plan your stretching routine either when you get out of bed in the morning or before you go to sleep at night. This will allow you to get up slightly earlier or to work it into your schedule so that you never miss a day. Some people do brief stretching routines during the day, such as at their desk at work, for instance, but these are usually not able to be as comprehensive as you might like. Plan your routine whenever you feel you will have the most energy.

Woman stretching her sides.
Woman stretching her sides.

A good stretching routine does not have to be long; 20 or 30 minutes of stretching can offer many benefits. Consider what benefits you want to receive from stretching. For instance, do you have an injury that you want to improve? Do you want to work on your skills in a specific sport or activity, or do you just want to improve your overall flexibility and posture? Determining your goals for stretching will help you to find the best stretching program for you.

Some basic stretches can improve a person's running form.
Some basic stretches can improve a person's running form.

You might choose to do some basic stretches to improve your running form, for instance, or to work on your golfing abilities. You might also choose to base your stretching routine off of yoga, tai chi, or Pilates principles; these often provide more benefits for the entire body, as well as offer stress relief and relaxation benefits. Search online for specific stretching programs for particular benefits. You might also choose to purchase a DVD that provides instruction in stretching routines.

Lunges are a good way to stretch the quadriceps.
Lunges are a good way to stretch the quadriceps.

It is not necessary to do the same stretching routine every day. In fact, it may be even more beneficial to vary the routine regularly, to be sure you are working different muscle groups and getting the most potential benefits. No matter what type of stretching routine you choose, be sure to start slowly, glide easily into each stretch without bouncing; stop stretching immediately if any sharp or shooting pains occur.

Hamstring stretches -- as well as other stretches -- are best after a short warm up.
Hamstring stretches -- as well as other stretches -- are best after a short warm up.
It is not necessary to do the same stretching routine everyday.
It is not necessary to do the same stretching routine everyday.
Stretching can improve one's golf game.
Stretching can improve one's golf game.

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