(HealthDay News) -- Proper stretching can help reduce the risk of injury and improve your workouts.

The Women's Heart Foundation offers these suggestions for proper stretching:

  • Gently and slowly stretch for at least five to seven minutes before aerobic exercise.
  • Make sure your stretching motions are relaxed and slow.
  • Never bounce when stretching, which can cause you to pull a muscle.
  • Don't push too hard; stretch until you feel mild tension in the muscle but never to the point of pain.
  • Without bouncing, hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds while breathing naturally. Take a break and repeat.
  • Perform cool-down stretches for at least five to seven minutes after aerobic exercise.