Stretching makes you more flexible and helps your joints keep a healthy range of motion. It also makes you less likely to strain your muscles or joints.
How often should you stretch, though? How long should a stretch be held? How many times should each stretch be done?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) put together a group of experts to look at a wide range of studies to help answer these questions. Stretching hasn't been studied as thoroughly as other forms of exercise, so the science isn't as strong. But the panel agreed, based on the evidence, that:
Healthy adults should do flexibility exercises (like stretches, yoga, or tai chi) for all major muscle-tendon groups at least two to three times a week. These groups include the neck, shoulders, chest, trunk, lower back, hips, legs, and ankles.
To get the most out of each stretching exercise, you should do it for a total of 60 seconds. So, if you can hold a stretch for 15 seconds, it would be best to do it three more times. If you can hold the stretch for 20 seconds, you would only need to do it twice more.