Stretching increases blood flow around the body, which in turn makes the muscles more flexible. But stretching the wrong way can cause problems, too. Here are some guidelines on how to stretch safely:
•Stretch for at least five to seven minutes before exercising.
•Keep muscles relaxed, and stretch slowly. Never bounce your muscles while stretching.
•Stretch until you feel some tension in your muscles, but never until it hurts.
•Hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds, and breathe slowly and deeply.
•Relax, and then stretch again for a few seconds longer at each stretch. Repeat each stretch several times.
The last 5 minutes of your exercise, gradually slow down to your warm-up pace. Then, finish with a few more stretches. Stretching after you walk gives your body time to cool down and your muscles a chance to relax. It also helps your heart return to a normal rate.