How Long Should You Be Holding Your Stretches?


If you take the time to stretch after your workout, you are already doing better than a lot of people. However, if you aren’t holding your stretch long enough, you may be wasting your time.

Stretching is really beneficial to your body, as it can improve your flexibility, reduce your chances of an injury and increase your workout performance. To do this, you need to get into a stretching position and hold it for long enough for your muscles to get the full benefit.

So, how long should you hold your stretch? Probably longer than you do. Muscles are structured in a way to prevent you from getting injured, but unfortunately, they also prevent you from getting much benefit out a stretch that you hold for under 20 seconds.

Additionally, similar to doing several sets of an exercise, it is best to do several rounds of static stretching in order to get the most benefits from it.

Healthy adults should address their muscles at least two days a week by doing a series of exercises to increase flexibility in each of the major muscle-tendon groups. It is best to do each exercise for a full minute. If you want, you can do three rounds of 20 seconds instead of one round of 60 seconds. As long as you spend 60 full seconds on each muscles group.

To get the most benefits from doing this, it is best to do this immediately after you finish working out. It is ideal to do your stretches and work on your range of motion while your muscles are loose and warmed up.

So, what stretches should you be doing? It depends on what your body is telling you to do. You probably want to make sure that you pay attention to your major muscle groups, such as your hips, glutes, calves, quads, and hamstrings. You also want to focus on your upper body by stretching your shoulder girdle, chest, and upper back.

Here are some popular stretches for you to do:

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and relax your arms by your sides. Breathe out while you bend forward at your hips and lower your head to the floor. Keep your head, neck, and shoulders loose and relaxed. Wrap your arms around the backs of your legs and hold this stretch for anywhere from one to two minutes. Bend your knees and slowly roll up when you’re finished.

Lunge with Spinal Twist

Stand up straight with your feet together. Use your right foot and take a big step forward. Bend your right knee and drop down into a lunge while you keep your left leg straight behind you and your toes on the floor. This will allow you to feel a stretch at the front of your left thigh. Place your left hand on the ground and twist your chest towards the right while you extend your right arm up toward the sky. Hold this for one to two minutes and repeat it on the other side.

Figure Four Stretch

Lie on your back and put your feet flat on the floor. Lift up your right leg and cross your right leg over your left quad. Then, lift up your left leg and grab the back on your left leg and slowly pull it towards you. When you feel a good stretch, hold it for one to two minutes. Switch to the other side and repeat this stretch.

Frog Stretch

Start out on all fours and slide your knees outwards until they are past the width of your shoulders. Move your feet so your toes are facing outward. Rest the inner edges of your feet on the floor. Then, slowly shift your hips back toward your heels. To get a deeper stretch, switch from resting on your hands to resting on your forearms and hold this for one to two minutes.

Pick out a variety of stretches, and either do them for one minute each or you can choose to follow the 3×20-second rule.

Also, doing these types of stretches is best left for after your workout rather than before. Static stretching before exercising can put you at risk for injury. Instead, choose to do a more dynamic stretching session prior to your workout.

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Exercises to Cure “Tech Neck”

Have you heard of “tech neck”? More people than ever are suffering from this problem due to the long hours spent looking down at phones, tablets, and laptops. If this issue is not resolved, it may lead to chronic pain and even permanent changes in your skeletal structure.

However, there are some exercise that you can do to help prevent this problem and soothe the pain. Fortunately, these exercises can easily be added to your daily routine so you can be sure to keep your neck health in check.

Your body adapts to the strains that you put on it. We know that holding stretches for more than 20 minutes can lead to muscle tension and lack of flexibility, which is why we tend to move around a lot or change our resting position. When you are hunched over looking at a screen, you are allowing your neck to remain in a forward position because you are straining your tissues, which causes them to lose their their pliability. This may not feel too bad now, but it can certainly lead to discomfort and dysfunction in the future.

What can you do to fix it?

You do not want your “tech neck” to lead to permanent neck complications as you start to age. Because of this, it is best to take action to alleviate and reverse symptoms while you still can. Unless there has already been structural damage done to your skeleton, you should be able to change your resting posture and train your neck back to how it should rest, which is in an upright position.

The first thing you should do is it make it a point to get up from your screen every half hour. Take a little walk around or do something to take a break. Additionally, try adding the following easy exercises into your daily routine. Take some time every day to do ten reps of each of these exercises:

1. Over-correct yourself by slouching.

Get in an extreme slouched posture while you roll your shoulders forward and bend your neck forward at the same time. Then, do the reverse of this move. Over-correct the other way by rolling your shoulders as far as back as you can and lifting your chin up toward the sky.

2. Do chin tucks.

Begin by looking straight forward. Slowly lower your chin as far as you can to your neck while you move your gaze downward. Hold this for a few moments and then slowly bring your chin back up to a neutral position.

3. Do overhead reaches.

You can do this either sitting or standing. Make sure that your back is straight and you are looking straight ahead. Relax your shoulders to make sure that you are not tensing the muscles in your neck or shoulders. You may even want to push your shoulders down a bit from where it feels natural. Raise your arms slowly over your head, reaching toward the sky. Hold this pose for a few moments and then slowly return your arms back down to a resting position.

4. Do some scapular retractions.

Look straight ahead and relax your shoulders. Keep your arms placed by your sides. Without bringing your shoulders up, push your chest out a bit and squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you. Hold this for a few moments and then relax.

There are many other downfalls to spending too much time looking at technology, but people don’t often think about their neck health or their posture. Keep these exercises in mind while you are doing work or playing games on your various technologies all day. Just like other anti-aging regimens you likely do, you will thank yourself for this when you are older and you still have proper posture without pain.

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