How Long Should You Be Holding A Stretch?

Most of us have heard of the benefits of stretching. It's something we know we should all do, but not many of us take the time to hold a stretch as long as we need to. Stretching benefits us by calming our nervous system as well as warming up our bodies for a workout. According to the Mayo Clinic, stretching helps us more than we think. It can enhance our physical performance, lessen our risk of injuries, increase our blood flow, and keep our joints moving in a healthy way. If you played any sport when you were younger, your coach most likely had you stretch before a game or practice. As people get older, though, many of them skip this important step in their workouts.


Stretching is important, but how you stretch also matters. Unless you are practicing yoga, chances are you aren't holding a stretch for as long as you should. By only holding your leg or your arm for a few seconds, you don't give the muscle time to increase blood flow. Healthline explains that we need to give our muscles time to allow blood to flow through for them to receive more oxygen. 

Static and dynamic stretching

Because stretching helps you prevent injury and get more out of your workouts, it's important to add them to your routine. There are two types of stretches you can do: static and dynamic. Static stretching and dynamic stretching are different approaches to achieving a good stretch with your muscles. According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, a static stretch can be used as a cool-down and a way to maintain your flexibility. To perform a static stretch, push a muscle as far as you can and hold the stretch for 20 to 40 seconds. This will help increase flexibility and give your body a chance to cool down after a workout.


Dynamic stretching is a little different. Dynamic stretching is based on movement while you stretch. To activate dynamic stretching, you need to move your joints and muscles that you'll target in your workout instead of keeping your body still, like in static stretching. Dynamic stretching is  helpful before workouts to get your blood flowing and your heart rate elevated. Most health experts recommend dynamic stretching because it warms your muscles better than simply standing still and performing a static stretch. Even though you are moving during a dynamic stretch, you still need to perform these repetitions 10 to 20 times for each muscle (via Cleveland Clinic).

How to stretch properly

In order to implement more stretching, begin with some dynamic stretches before your workout. If you are focusing on upper body muscles, do some arm circles or arm swings. If you are targeting your lower body, add some dynamic squats and sumo squats to get the muscles warm. As far as static stretching goes, save those for the end of your workouts. The Stretch Coach emphasizes holding the static stretch for at least 30 seconds and focusing on breathing through the stretch.


By increasing your stretching time and the number of stretches you do during your day, you will increase your parasympathetic nervous system to improve digestion and relaxation. You'll also help release endorphins, which can potentially reduce pain, per Healthline. If you've been wanting to improve the way your body moves and the way you feel, add stretching into your routine, hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds, and reap the benefits from head to toe.