The right way to improve your body’s flexibility

The right way to improve your body’s flexibility

By Jason Howland, Mayo Clinic News Network

Troy Warren for CNT

Mayo Clinic experts say old way of stretching before exercise is wrong approach

Muscle flexibility is important for your body. But according to sports medicine experts at Mayo Clinic, the old way of stretching before you exercise isn’t the right approach.

“Having flexible muscles and mobile joints can help reduce your overall injury risk. But it can also help improve your performance,” said Dr. Chad Asplund, a Mayo Clinic sports medicine physician.

Stretching those muscles is a good way to increase flexibility, but there’s a common mistake many people make.

“The old stretching before you work out has actually been shown to increase the rate of injuries,” Asplund said. “And paradoxically, regular stretching done when the muscles are warm, such as after you work out, over the long term will make your muscles more flexible and lower your injury risk.”

Rather than stretching before you exercise, do a dynamic warmup instead, such as running in place, jumping jacks or leg lifts.

“Things where you’re engaging the muscles, but you’re moving them. And you’re getting them warm gradually as you progress into your workout,” Asplund said.

And then after the workout, perform stretches, which lengthen the muscles by placing them under tension.

“If you think about having a rubber band, if you have a really short rubber band and you yank it really hard, it’s much more likely to tear than if that rubber band is a little bit longer,” says Asplund.

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By Troy Warren

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