6 Common Stretching Mistakes

What Are The Common Mistakes That People Make When They Do Stretching?

woman-stretchingStretching feels great and increases flexibility… when done the right way. But not preparing properly or doing the stretch incorrectly can lead to injuries and inflexibility, the exact opposite of the results you want. Here are some common mistakes to avoid for a safer, pain-free and effective stretching routine:

1. You bounce. Bouncing at the end of your stretch (when done vigorously enough) can cause the muscles and tendons to tear. This “ballistic” stretching triggers a reaction within the muscle that prevents it from relaxing and ends up defeating the purpose of the action. Instead, it is recommended that you gradually elongate and hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds, then release and repeat several times.

2. You’re in the wrong position. If you don’t feel the stretch where you’re expecting to feel it, you may be doing it wrong. Poor body positioning can cause you to miss the muscle you’re aiming to stretch. Use a free hand to feel the muscle you are stretching. It should feel tight and then loosen after the stretch.

3. You stretch an injured muscle. Stretching an injured muscle can make the damage even worse by worsening a tear. Once the injury is healed, gradually introduce low-intensity stretching.

4. You stretch without warming up. This is probably the most common stretching mistake. Stretching a cold muscle can cause a tear or rip. You need a good warm-up before you stretch, one where you break a sweat. That’s probably 10 minutes or so, but might be longer for some people. That can be a mild jog, brisk walk, the treadmill. Warming up and stretching are not the same thing.

5. You do static stretching before your workout. Researchers have found that static stretching before a workout does not prevent muscle pain or the risk for injuries. Static stretching before an athletic competition has been found to decrease performance. Only do static stretching after a workout. The rule is dynamic stretching before exercise and static stretching afterward. Static stretching before a workout or an athletic competition decreases performance.

6. You try too hard. Like bouncing, pushing the stretch beyond your ability may cause the muscle to tear. The muscle tendon complex to the bone can be damaged by contracting the muscle and then pushing beyond your range of motion. You should feel a little bit uncomfortable during a stretch, but it should never be painful. If you still feel tight, repeat the stretch several times while staying within your range of motion.

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