The American Council on Exercise offers these safe-stretching guidelines:
- Don't stretch if muscles aren't warmed up.
- Carefully stretch until there's light tension in the muscles, taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling.
- Hold that position for 15-to-30 seconds, relax and repeat up to four times.
- Stay still and don't bounce during stretching.
- Don't push yourself to the point of pain; ease the stretch until it is comfortable.
- Breathe normally as you stretch. Don't hold your breath.