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Stretching, or flexibility, exercises are an important part of your physical-activity program. They give you more freedom of movement for your physical activities and for everyday activities such as getting dressed and reaching objects on a shelf. Stretching exercises can improve your flexibility but will not improve your endurance or strength.

Talk with your doctor to determine what stretching exercises you should do, or whether you should take a stretching class. Always warm up before stretching exercises and stretch after endurance or strength exercises. If you are doing only stretching exercises, warm up with a few minutes of easy walking first. Stretching your muscles before they are warmed up may result in injury.

Always remember to breathe normally while holding a stretch.Stretching may feel slightly uncomfortable; for example, a mild pulling feeling is normal. You are stretching too far if you feel sharp or stabbing pain or joint pain — while doing the stretch or even the next day. Reduce the stretch so that it doesn't hurt. Never "bounce" into a stretch. Make slow, steady movements instead. Jerking into position can cause muscles to tighten, possibly causing injury.

Source: National Institutes of Health Senior Health


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