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Should I Keep Stretching if It Hurts?

    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. 

    Should I Keep Stretching if It Hurts

    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. 

    Stretching Can Have Dangers 

    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. 

    If you don’t give your body time to recover and get into other stretches, you’ll only increase the pain by straining your muscles.  

    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. 

    Overstretching can cause 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. 

    Any sharp pain means you’re overstretching your muscles and probably hurting yourself.  

    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.

    Stretching When It Hurts

    Pain is a sign of overstretched muscles.  Overstretching can lead to severe injuries such as strains and sprains.

    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. 

    You can also get out of the stretch and then get back into it more cautiously and reduce its intensity. 

    Another option is to alter your stretching angle to decrease the pressure and pulling of your soft tissues. 

    Alter stretching angle to decrease pressure

    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:

    • Rest. Stop doing the activity that led to injury, then rest the injured part of the body.
    • Ice. Place some ice or cold packs on the injured area as fast as possible to reduce inflammation and swelling. You should apply the ice within 48-72 hours after your injury – put it on for 15-20 minutes, then remove it for another 15-20. 
    • Compress. Wrap the area with an elastic bandage, but be careful not to make it too binding and loosen it if needed. 
    • Elevate. Now raise your injured area so that it’s above your heart level and keep it elevated all the time, even while sleeping. 

    In some cases, when your pain is too much, you can use over-the-counter pain killers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil). 

    If your pain persists for a few days after following the R.I.C.E method, visit your doctor to go over medical options. 

    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? 🤸‍♀️

    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. 

    If your discomfort while stretching is tolerable, go on and hold it 1 minute at least and 3 minutes in maximum.  

    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 🤔

    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. 

    Exercise and stretching

    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. 

    Do stretches in the evening

    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.

    Stretching in the morning is a great way to boost your mood and start it with a fresh mindful. 

    Remember that the key to benefiting from an exercise is consistency, not time.

     

    The Type of Stretching You Do Matters 🙄

    Dynamic vs. Static Stretches

    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. 

    Dynamic stretches are basic and easy movements that engage your muscles and joints in their full, normal range of motion.  

    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. 

    Static stretches after 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

    During static stretches, you hold different body parts in various stretching positions for a specific period, ranging from 15 seconds to 3 minutes. 

    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.

    Preview
    Best Quality
    Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands with Instruction Guide and Carry Bag, Set of 5
    Best Variations
    3.9ft Resistance Bands Set - Exercise Bands for Physical Therapy, Yoga, Pilates, Rehab and Home Workout, Non-Latex Elastic Bands Set of 3
    Best Price
    Hoocan Resistance Bands Set, Long Exercise Bands for Arms, Shoulders, Legs and Butt, Workout Stretch Bands for Physical Therapy, Gym, Yoga
    Product Name
    Fit Simplify Resistance Loop
    RENRANRING Bands
    Hoocan Resistance Bands
    Use for Exercise
    Use for Physical Therapy
    Resistance Level
    Five levels
    Three Levels
    Three Levels
    Quality
    Superior Quality
    Good Quality Exercise Bands
    Premium Quality
    Extras
    Portable travel carry bag and exercise instruction guide.
    One Carry Bag + One Workout Guide.
    None
    Best Quality
    Preview
    Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands with Instruction Guide and Carry Bag, Set of 5
    Product Name
    Fit Simplify Resistance Loop
    Use for Exercise
    Use for Physical Therapy
    Resistance Level
    Five levels
    Quality
    Superior Quality
    Extras
    Portable travel carry bag and exercise instruction guide.
    Interested
    Best Variations
    Preview
    3.9ft Resistance Bands Set - Exercise Bands for Physical Therapy, Yoga, Pilates, Rehab and Home Workout, Non-Latex Elastic Bands Set of 3
    Product Name
    RENRANRING Bands
    Use for Exercise
    Use for Physical Therapy
    Resistance Level
    Three Levels
    Quality
    Good Quality Exercise Bands
    Extras
    One Carry Bag + One Workout Guide.
    Interested
    Best Price
    Preview
    Hoocan Resistance Bands Set, Long Exercise Bands for Arms, Shoulders, Legs and Butt, Workout Stretch Bands for Physical Therapy, Gym, Yoga
    Product Name
    Hoocan Resistance Bands
    Use for Exercise
    Use for Physical Therapy
    Resistance Level
    Three Levels
    Quality
    Premium Quality
    Extras
    None
    Interested

     

    Final Words 😎

    Exercise success tips

    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. 

    The key is to pay attention to the cues you get from your body, especially the pain. 

    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

    nv-author-image

    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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