Stretching is one of the best ways to loosen the tight muscles and warm them up.
To reap their benefits, people use stretches before or after their workout routine – even during some exercises like yoga.
However, many don’t know how much discomfort or pain they should bear while stretching. If you are asking yourself should I keep stretching if it hurts? Then this article will help you.
You shouldn’t keep stretching when it hurts, especially if there’s a sharp or stabbing pain in your muscles. Feeling a little discomfort or pulling is normal, but pain means going beyond your muscle’s capacity. So, if you feel pain, stop and redo the stretch with less intensity or change the angle.
If you’re also willing to know more about the right way of stretching, keep reading this article. We’re going through why stretching may hurt and how to prevent overstretching.
Besides, we’ll tell you more about two types of stretching and when to use each.
Stretching Can Have Dangers 🚩
Fitness experts recommend stretching before and after any workout to prevent injuries or increase your flexibility and athletic capability.
Some workouts like yoga or Pilates even include specialized stretching.
However, stretching can be dangerous if you do it incorrectly despite its merits. But, what does that mean?
Stretching – especially the static type– while your muscles are still cold can lead to strains.
Stretching when your muscles are cramped can also lead to serious damage. When a muscle spasms, its fibers become tense and short.
So, if you try to stretch the tissue while its elasticity is at its least, you may severely injure it.
Overstretching, or stretching your muscles way beyond their typical range of motion, is another prevalent issue that can lead to a range of injuries.
When you stretch, it’s normal to feel some slight pull or discomfort in your muscles, and you should push a little more than this to increase your flexibility gradually.
What you should bear in mind is that stretching shouldn’t be painful.
Similarly, if you feel soreness in your muscle the day after the stretching, you should cut on the intensity of your stretching.
Remember that your body’s limit for stretching can vary day by day, so always pay attention to its response and never force yourself into a stretching position.
Here is a great video about the proper way to stretch and prevent overstretching:
Also, consider these leg stretching machines to help you improve your flexibility. Also, see our post are stretching machines effective for even more options.
Stretching When It Hurts ❌
Some people think pain is a natural part of stretching, and they should continue regardless of what they feel.
Strains are usually the result of overstretching or overexerting a muscle or a tendon (the substance that attaches muscle to bones).
At the same time, sprains are caused by overstretching or ripping a ligament (that connects bone to bone).
So, if you feel any sharp pain during a stretch, the best thing you can do is stop the activity.
Another option is to alter your stretching angle to decrease the pressure and pulling of your soft tissues.
However, if you hurt yourself and end up with a strain or sprain, immediately stop exercising and rest the injured muscles. Then use the famous R.I.C.E treatment method:
In some cases, when your pain is too much, you can use over-the-counter pain killers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil).
In some cases, if the injury is very severe, you may need a cast, and if you tear your muscle or another soft tissue, the doctor may recommend you to have surgery.
How Long Should You Hold a Stretch? 🤸♀️
Another common question on stretching is how long a person should hold a specific stretch to avoid hurting themselves while reaping its benefits.
You should spend 60 seconds on each stretch to reap its benefits. Therefore, if you hold a certain stretch for 15 seconds, you should repeat it three more times, and if you can hold it for 20 seconds, then only two other repetitions would suffice.
However, if you’re going to target a particular area that is tight, injured, or want to achieve a challenging goal like the splits, some experts advise holding a stretch for up to 3 minutes.
Naturally, your muscles may spasm within the first days or weeks of stretching.
However, if you feel severe pain while coming out of a stretch, you’ve held it for too long.
Therefore, it’s vital to listen closely to your body’s response to each stretching and know your limits to avoid going too far.
Best Time to Do Stretches 🤔
Another crucial point about stretching is the right time to do it. Should we place it before our exercise or after it? What time of the day is better?
The best time for stretching is when your muscles are already warm, whether due to warming up or a complete workout. You can also schedule a pure stretching session during the day and focus on simple stretches. Moreover, your muscles are generally more flexible toward the end of the day.
You can do your stretches after you warm up your muscles to prevent injuries or perform them when you’re done with your training session to cool down and relax the muscles.
You can also incorporate a stretching routine in your day, but remember that as you approach the end of the day, your body’s flexibility increases because you’ve probably been moving and active all day.
So, if you’re going to improve flexibility, it’s better to do the stretches in the evening.
However, if your schedule doesn’t allow you to work out or do your stretches in the evening, don’t get disappointed.
You still can reap the benefits of a good stretching session in the morning before heading to your work.
Remember that the key to benefiting from an exercise is consistency, not time.
The Type of Stretching You Do Matters 🙄
If you’re an experienced athlete, you may already know about the importance of stretch type you do, but most amateurs are unaware of this fact or simply ignore it.
Generally, there are two types of stretching: dynamic and static stretches.
While in the past, experts recommended thorough stretching before a workout, newer studies have shown that such lengthy static stretching can reduce muscle power and hinder optimal athletic performance.
Instead, it’s now commonly believed that doing dynamic stretches before exercise can warm you up without affecting your muscle strength and performance. They also significantly reduces the possibility of injuries such as strains or pulled muscles.
They increase the core and muscle temperature, provide more oxygen and nutrients, elongate the muscles, and trigger the nervous system, so your body is primed for action! As a result, muscles are more ready for quick changes in length and less prone to injury.
For instance, rolling shoulders, doing side to side lunges, or circling arms up and around. They should be a part of your warm-up routine, no matter how intense your athletic activity is.
However, static stretches are also beneficial, but only if you do them after the workout.
After the training, your muscles are super warm and flexible, so it’s the best time to stretch them – for example, to improve your hamstring flexibility.
Remember that you should avoid bouncing while doing stretches because you can end up with injuries.
You can use resistance bands to increase your flexibility or recover from an injury. Here are our top three recommended resistance bands for your stretches.
Final Words 😎
Stretching, either dynamic or static, can promote the body’s flexibility and prevent injuries.
However, many don’t know how far they should go and hurt themselves during stretching.
Some discomfort and pulling are normal, but stop it immediately and reduce the intensity in case of pain.
Last update on 2022-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API