- Perform static stretching before an activity (such as a runner's stretch, hamstring or quad stretch- where one position is held for a length of time). Static stretches elongate muscle fibers which can cause injury when done on "cold" muscles and can actually decrease your power and speed during the activity. Instead, do a warm up before your activity. For "work-out" type activities, such as running, using the elliptical, or lifting, try walking at a brisk pace a few minutes before the activity, slow lunges, or knee lifts with marching. If you're about to play a sport, practice movements that you will doing frequently during the activity, but in a slower, more controlled pace. This will prime your body to do these actions in a safe, technique-appropriate way during game time.
- Bounce with static stretches! As previously stated, static stretching elongates muscle fibers. If you bounce you're very likely to overstretch the muscle or even tear fibers.
- Hold your breath. This is known as a val-salva maneuver to health professionals and can wreak havoc on your blood pressure as well as teach you bad habits that you then take into your work out or sport. You are never performing an activity to your true potential if you're holding your breath.
- Static stretching after your activity. No matter the activity, you just performed numerous contractions which has left your muscle tight and balled up. Even after the activity the muscle fibers remain in some amount of contraction, therefore, we need to elongate them to return them to their normal resting state. This will decrease the likelihood of muscle soreness or spasm. If you're in a time crunch, at least stretch the muscle groups you used most during your activity (ie quads after lunges)
- When performing your static activity, stop at a sensation of a comfortable stretch, NOT PAIN. Pain indicates, or may lead to, possible injury.
- Hold your stretch for 30-60 seconds.
- Remember to always use good technique. If you're trying to stretch your hamstrings, be sure you're not actually stretching your back!