How Long Should You Hold a Stretch?
Many people think that the optimal time you should a stretch for is 30-45 seconds, however Chris and Ann Fredrick in their book on Fascial Stretching, Stretch to Win urge their athletes to stop thinking about the duration and focus more on their breathing and how the stretch feels.
Figuring out how long to hold a stretch is dependent on the tissues of your body and the goals of the stretching sessions. Ann and Chris use the the stretch wave breathing tempo, which goes from very rapid when warming up down to very slow when focused on restorative stretching as a guide.
To increase flexibility we need to reach a plastic point in the tissue where it releases and it will stay there. We are trying to actually remold the tissue just like if you were to melt a piece of plastic, reshape it and then let it cool.
How long this takes depends on a number of things including, state of hydration, genetics, age, previous flexibility training, other medical conditions (osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s) and how chronic the tightness is. Start with a very slow breath wave, which is 3-5 nice slow-long breaths (maybe longer) and learn to listen (feel) for the release.
As you exhale allow your intent to be lengthening; never force a stretch to go further than it wants to on that day.