When doing stretches, how long should you hold your position? This is a common question for those working out since holding a stretch for a shorter period may not provide optimum results similar to not having to stretch at all. So if you want to stretch optimally, better hold your stretch for a specified number of seconds based on scientific evidence and scientific recommendations. A variety of best stretches and proper form tips are also available from your local Lutz chiropractor.

What does the Evidence Suggests?

Several studies have been conducted to evaluate the effects of stretching and the amount of time needed to produce the beneficial results of stretching the muscles. According to orthopedic physicians as well as fitness experts, a stretch should be held for at least 20 seconds with a maximum of 30 seconds to ensure that the muscles are stretched optimally without the risk for injury. Any stretch less than 20 seconds won’t yield a significant difference on the muscles and other soft tissues similar to not stretching. However, holding a stretch too long such as for more than 30 seconds can pose threats for tissue injury because of microtrauma to the muscle fibers. Trauma to the muscles may cause rupture, muscle damage or delayed onset muscle soreness. These may cause significant loss of muscle function related to pain, soreness and inflammation. In this line, holding a stretch for too long in the belief that it may produce more significant results should be avoided to prevent injuries.

When Do I Start Counting?

Aside from the length of time that you need to hold your stretch, counting on the right time is also important. Counting for at least 20 seconds should start when a full stretch is achieved and not when the stretch is still started. Once you have achieved a full stretch (you will feel a slight pull on your muscles), then count for at least 20 seconds and at most 30 seconds to complete an excellent stretch. Furthermore, when you feel pain on the stretched body part, stop the stretch, wait for two minutes and begin to stretch again as long as pain is not present. Stretching in the presence of pain may only aggravate a preexisting tissue injury.

How Often Do I Need to Stretch?

Aside from stretching for a specific recommended time frame, the American College of Sports Medicine also recommend stretching for at least two to three times per week even without undergoing workout to ensure that the flexibility of the muscles and soft tissues is maintained. Stretches do not only serve as warm up and cool down measures, but can be done by people who do not work out to ensure maximum flexibility, prevent injuries and maintain excellent circulation and oxygenation in the absence of exercise.

So the next time you perform a stretch or workout, take note of the right duration to ensure that you get the benefits of stretching. Also take note of the right time to start counting and make sure to stretch regularly to help the muscle lengthen and achieve maximum flexibility for maximum performance.