The benefits of stretching are many and well-documented – from improving flexibility and strength to helping to increase your agility.
But stretching the wrong way may do more harm than good, fitness and wellness experts say. For instance, choosing what time to stretch – before your workout or after –
can either improve your workout or over-work your muscles.
If you don't stretch correctly, you could harm your body. Avoid making these mistakes when stretching.
1. Stretching When It's Painful
Stretching should never be painful. There may be some minor discomfort when stretching, but the goal of stretching after a workout is to increase mobility to your body's tissue. You should never stretch to the point of extreme pain, as pain may be a sign of an injury or another issue.
Something else to keep in mind is that you should never stretch an injured muscle because it may worsen a torn muscle. If muscle pain persists for several days, you should have it checked by a physician. You should only resume low-intensity stretching after the muscle has healed sufficiently.
Again, it's OK to feel some discomfort during your stretch, but it should never be overly painful.
2. Static Stretching Before Exercise
Again, when you stretch is essential, but many people believe that best time is before your workout. The truth is, however, that static stretching before you exercise may lead to injury.
Static stretching involves holding a stretch in a specific position for a specified amount of time.
Many fitness experts now say that dynamic types of stretching – in which you do a range of motions – is more effective and may result in better overall performance.
3. Stretching Too Much
Stretching your hamstrings when they're tight is one thing. But stretching them even if they continue to feel tight is another.
When it comes to increasing your hamstring flexibility, building strength is more important than continuing to stretch when the muscle even when tightness persists. While stretching your hamstring loosens it in the short term, training it over a more extended range of motion is best.
Moreover, you also have to be careful not to put too much stress on your pelvis, which connects with your hamstrings.
4. Stretching Without Warming Up
One reason that many fitness experts prefer more dynamic types of stretching to static stretching, especially before a workout, is that stretching a muscle when it's cold may cause a tear or rip.
A popular school of thought recommends that you do some type of warmup for 10 minutes before you stretch, preferably a warmup in which you break a sweat. Doing so will move and work the muscle in a way that promotes flexibility.
5. Bouncing As You Stretch
Many people bounce their leg or arms as they stretch, some without even noticing. Unfortunately, an overly-aggressive bounce may cause muscle and tendon tears because it triggers a reaction within the muscle that keeps it from relaxing. It also defeats the purpose of the stretch.
Stretching is an important part of any active lifestyle. It helps increase your flexibility, mobility, and endurance. By avoiding these five mistakes, you’ll be able to stretch safely and ensure your workouts are as effective as possible.
Are you interested in developing a healthy lifestyle, but you don’t know where to start? Schedule a consultation with Matrix Age Management. Dr. Patrick Proffer can develop a personalized diet and fitness plan to help you feel better and get more out of your life.