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The ideal stretching routine

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Stretching promotes flexibility and helps your joints maintain a healthy range of motion—and in doing so, also lowers the chances of joint and muscle strain. But how often should you stretch? How long should you hold a stretch? And how many times should you do each stretch?



A panel of experts convened by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reviewed a wide range of studies to help answer these questions. Stretching has been studied much less rigorously than other forms of exercise, so the science is not as strong. But, based on the evidence, the panel agreed that:

  • Healthy adults should do flexibility exercises (stretches, yoga, or tai chi) for all major muscle-tendon groups—neck, shoulders, chest, trunk, lower back, hips, legs, and ankles—at least two to three times a week.

  • For optimal results, you should spend a total of 60 seconds on each stretching exercise. So, if you can hold a particular stretch for 15 seconds, repeating it three more times would be ideal. If you can hold the stretch for 20 seconds, two more repetitions would do the trick.


The top 10 health benefits of stretching

1. Stretching sharpness focus.

2. Stretching reduces muscle tension and promotes muscle relaxation

3. Stretching relieves lower back pain

4. Stretching improves oxygen flow and essential nutrient intake

5. Stretching reduces stress

6. Stretching improves posture

7. Stretching slows joint degeneration

8. Stretching eliminates pain caused by muscle stress

9. Stretching improves circulation

10. Stretching reduces the risk of injury


To learn more about improving your flexibility, read Stretching, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.


* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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