reviewed 9/19/2018

Stretching: Myth or fact?

When it comes to flexibility and minding your muscles, it's important not to stretch the truth. See if you can tell fact from fiction in this quiz all about stretching and its benefits.

Myth or fact: Flexibility is nice to have, but it's not a major part of physical fitness.

Myth. Flexibility is an important part of physical fitness. Your body needs to be able to bend and twist through a normal range of motion without overexerting yourself or causing injury. When you are more flexible, you are more agile, which can help you meet the demands of your physical activity of choice.

Myth or fact: Stretching can reduce your stress levels.

Fact. Exercise is a great way to control stress. Plus, well-stretched muscles hold less tension and thus leave your body feeing less stressed. According to the American Council on Exercise, stretching has many other unseen benefits, such as improved posture and circulation.

Myth or fact: Stretching correctly should hurt a little.

Myth. Stretching should not hurt. Only stretch your muscle to the point of tension—you should feel some tightness, but not pain. As you stretch more, you may notice that you can tolerate more stretching.

Myth or fact: You should stretch before you warm up.

Myth. If you stretch cold muscles, you may have a higher risk of injury. According to the American Council on Exercise, you should spend 5 to 10 minutes warming up prior to stretching out. Warming up is usually a simple and low-intensity activity, such as easy walking while swinging your arms.

Myth or fact: Stretching as you get older is a bad idea.

Myth. As you age, your muscles get shorter, and over time you may lose your ability to do certain kinds of motion. Stretching regularly can slow down that process and keep you active longer.

Get flexible in your exercise routine and incorporate some stretching. Follow these steps:

  1. Exhale slowly as you stretch the muscle.
  2. Hold your stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
  3. Relax, and repeat 2 to 4 times.

Make sure to warm up first, and avoid classic mistakes like bouncing and holding your breath.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; American Council on Exercise; American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

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