Do you know what you are stretching?
Different tissues and activities require different times to complete:
The muscle belly or “meat’ of the muscle requires the least amount of time (1-30 seconds). A warm up stretch may only require 1 to 2 seconds, such as a butt kick or quad stretch prior to running or soccer. This is a quick stretch to facilitate circulation (warm-up) of the muscles.
- The initial response of veins, arteries and fascia to stretching is to hold and protect the structures. These structures do not start to relax or stretch for 90 to 120 seconds. This also includes connective tissues, ligaments and tendons.
- Nerves are the slowest to release the protective tension and do not initiate release or stretch until non painful pressure is maintained for greater than 180 seconds (3 minutes).
So depending on the tissue, your hold time may be as short as 1 second or may require 5 minutes for success.
Remember, if you are stretching to the point of pain, you may be taking one step forward and one step back. “Cause no pain” should be your motto.