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Stretching exercises

A woman stretching

What are stretching exercises?

Stretching exercises (also known as ‘range of movement’ exercises) are designed to make sure your joints are stretched as far as they safely and comfortably can be. They're often very simple and most of us already do some without even realising it – stretching your arms when you wake up, for example.

Why are stretching exercises important?

Stretching exercises:

  • help ease aches and pains
  • get the best movement from your joints
  • stretch the ligaments and tendons
  • help to keep your joints moving properly.

How should I do stretching exercises?

  1. Move as far as you can until you feel a stretch in the muscles around your joints.
  2. Hold for about 5–10 seconds, then relax.
  3. Repeat 5–10 times if you can.

Never ‘bounce’ a joint when doing these exercises.

If your joints are especially hot or swollen, you can still do stretching exercises, but do them gently and only do a few repetitions once a day.

You can find some stretching and strengthening exercises at the end of our Keep moving booklet (PDF 3.7 MB)

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