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Micro-Dosing Isn’t Just for Psychedelics — Turns Out It’s for Stretching, Too

Welcome to Second Opinion, a franchise where we ask real doctors whether social media health trends are legit, neutral or potentially dangerous. If you’ve ever scrolled past something bonkers and wondered “Is this a thing?” This corner is for you. Welcome. 

Everyone needs to stretch more. Most folks skip the cooldown in boutique workout classes and hunched capitalism has done a number on shoulders and hip flexors. The problem isn’t a lack of awareness of the body’s needs, though — it’s time. Few among us can justify spending 20 minutes rolling around on the floor when other responsibilities beckon. According to a group of #HealthTok influencers, that’s where micro-stretching comes in. 

Microdose stretching is holding stretches for smaller bites of 15 to 30 seconds throughout the day — at a desk, in an elevator, or waiting in line — rather than working the whole body during lengthier sessions where stretches are held for one or two minutes. Does micro-stretching still give you the same benefit? Is it equivalent to dedicated recovery time? 

Dr. Claire Morrow, a licensed physical therapist and orthopedic clinical specialist at Hinge Health, noted that “microdose stretching” — a new, catchy name for an old and sound principle of exercise — definitely holds water. Essentially, stretching has always been a thing, but recent research has shown that you don’t need to hold stretches for as long to get the same effect. 

“The concept of finding short bouts to exercise throughout the day (microdose stretching) is already recommended by PTs for specific patient populations, particularly post-operative,” said Dr. Morrow. “There is currently no specific guidance in literature on the correct dosing for stretching to help increase range of motion, with recent studies showing that we don’t have to hold the stretches as long as we thought we had to.”

On one hand, microdose stretching is quicker, which lowers the bar for consistency, but it’s also a way to multi-task and optimize. It solves the average millennial’s aversion to sitting quietly with their own thoughts for more than 30 seconds. It’s a way to do something good for the body without giving up doing something else. 

Dr. Morrow noted that microdose stretching helps to “break the barrier of the idea that you need dedicated time and space to stretch, which [could be] a very powerful driver to adherence in a stretching program, which is crucial for success.” 

Jack Craig, a certified personal trainer at Inside Bodybuilding, a health clinic offering anabolic recovery for professional athletes, referenced several studies that showed that even 10- to 15- second stretches increase flexibility and can adequately promote elongation of the muscle. 

He also shared that the benefits for stretches max out after a surprisingly short amount of reps. “Some studies have also shown that two to four reps are all you need to achieve the maximum benefit from many static stretches,” he said.

Overall, microdose stretching may not only be a time-sensitive alternative to longer recovery sessions, but it may even be a more efficient way to yield the same benefits. The verdict? This trend is definitely not total BS and would make a worthwhile addition to the work day. It (probably) won’t hurt.