On Stretching and Flexibility:
Proper function of your muscles and joints demands enough range of motion in those joints--maintaining flexibility, i.e., through stretching that promotes persistent muscle length, is essential!
Reduced flexibility is often seen over time and becomes more apparent with aging. When we couple this with reduced strength as we age, the result is someone who has trouble with even every day tasks- forget performance. Assessing flexibility is often difficult without a trained professional. This is because many factors play a role including disease (e.g. arthritis) and strength.
Daily stretching is recommended by most experts and each stretch should last 15 seconds and need not exceed 30 seconds. Each muscle would benefit from multiple stretches versus only one-- at least two in my opinion. I am referring to Static Stretching but other techniques exist as well. Dynamic and Contract- Relax stretching exists but this is not recommended without professional input. The goal with stretching is consistency so that improvements in both range of motion and function are maintained and not transient.
It is generally recommended that muscle temperature is raised through a warm-up prior to stretching. Stretch to your end range where tightness is felt. Do not induce substantial discomfort as you will likely injure yourself. Muscles are viscoelastic and inducing change in length comes with applied force but discomfort is your bodies way of saying, "slow down"... Changes are not made overnight. Consistency and proper form are the most important aspects of stretching. Yoga is an excellent way to improve flexibility. Wyatt Rehab in West Long Branch, A Physical Therapy clinic known for its Breast Cancer Rehabilitation and Lymphedema management now offers Yoga to its patients because of the profound benefits in Range of Motion.
It is always recommended to consult your physician and physical therapist when engaging in these activities. It is especially important to do so when prior injuries or other conditions exist that could pose a risk to the individual.