Dear Mayo Clinic: I recently started jogging for exercise. I have been stretching before each run, but I’ve heard that some stretches increase your risk of injury. Which stretches should I do, and which should I avoid?
A: Stretching is an important part of your exercise routine, as it increases your flexibility and improves your joints’ range of motion. Typically, the best time to stretch is after a workout when your muscles are warm and more receptive to stretching. Performing a variety of basic stretches that focus on major muscle groups generally is recommended to protect you from exercise-related injuries.
One of the significant benefits you get from stretching is ensuring that you have optimal range of motion around your joints. Full range of motion around your joints enables your muscles to work most effectively. Stretching also helps establish and maintain equal flexibility on both sides of your body. If a muscle on one side of your body is tighter than the same muscle on the other side, your risk for injury can increase due to the imbalance.
Getting into the habit of stretching your major muscle groups after each workout can be a good way to begin a routine of stretching. For runners, it’s a good idea to regularly stretch your calf...