1. Warm up before stretching. Take a short jog, run, or brisk walk to get your circulation pumping.
2. Wear warm clothes. It is better to get too hot as you stretch than to get too cold. Heat helps your muscle fibre perform its necessary chemical reactions more efficiently.
3. Stretch your body in proper order. That is, don’t stretch your hamstrings and then jump up to stretch your shoulders. Here is a great order to take: Hands, wrists, shoulders, neck, back, hips, quads, hamstrings, hips, knees, calves, and then ankles. Basically, just start at the top and work your way down, or vice-versa.
4. If you are really tight, get a partner to help you stretch.
5. When you stretch, hold the same position and pressure for at least twenty seconds.
6. Do not “bounce” as you stretch. This will create small tears in your muscle fibre.
7. Be careful not to “overstretch”. This can result in the major pulling or tearing of a muscle, ligament or the hyperextension of a joint.
8. Keep proper posture while stretching (i.e.: keep your back and shoulders straight – don’t hunch over).
9. When finished with a workout, take a cool-down stretch. You will be tempted to overstretch, so be careful. You really just want a light to moderate stretch at this time.
10. You don’t want your muscles to cool off too quickly after a heavy stretching session. So, when you are finished with a heavy stretching session be sure to work out afterwards, and then cool down with light stretching after that.
11. Spend at least 5 minutes per light stretching session, and 30 minutes per heavy stretching session (not including warm-up time. (Strategy: Have several light stretching sessions and only one heavy stretching session per day.)
12. Discipline yourself to a stretching schedule, and STICK TO IT.
13. Stretch often. Here are some great times to do some light stretching: