Flexibility: When and how to stretch for success

Flexibility: how to stretch for success

A habit some trainers say needs to broken: stretching before the exercise. What experts call cold stretching can tear apart your work out routine.

"You could really tear something...stretching when you're cold is not a good idea," explained Ellen Papania, trainer at Gigi's Fitness Center.

She warns runners especially need to ease themselves into a steady pace with a warm-up.

"Walk for a while. Walk a little faster for a while and then begin at a slow jog. Then pick up to the pace that you're looking for," said Papania.

Just because some people can touch their toes does not mean you need to.

"Maybe your body's not built that way...just to where you feel tension and breathe into it, but you should not feel pain," said Papania.

Stretching should be a relaxing release, not a strenuous struggle. "It also usually feels pretty good," continued Papania.

The other big no-no: using an object to push your muscles to their limit. Papania says that what she calls passive stretching can force your body past its breaking point. She suggests a self-controlled stretch like a kick.

"It takes you where you can go. It's not using another obstacle to take you in a place where you can't go," said Papania.

Warming up muscles does not mean necessarily hitting treadmill.

"As long as your body temperature is high, so that can be after a shower or a bath," explained Papania.

Those warm muscles can elongate more easily instead of snapping back like a rubber band.

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