Stretching is a physical exercise that involves deliberate flexion of the muscles or tendons. It releases tension from the muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons. However, some forms of stretching can lead to injury more than others. Which type of stretching has the highest risk of injury?
PNF stretching has the highest risk of injury since it can damage the tendons and connective tissues. It involves holding a muscle for a few seconds and releasing it, but if done incorrectly, without enough rest intervals, it can lead to injury.
Read on to learn more about different kinds of stretching and how risky they are regarding chances of injury.
Different Types of Stretching and Their Risk of Injury 🦵
Although stretching has many benefits for the body, it can also cause injury if you do it incorrectly.
To further explain these injuries, let’s take a look at different types of stretching:
Dynamic stretching involves muscle movement during the stretch.
It uses muscles to stretch themselves and perform slow, soft, and controlled active contractions.
This process increases blood flow, which raises the amount of oxygen used for athletic performance and loosens up the muscle fibers.
Dynamic stretching is mainly used as a warm-up technique for athletes and improves their flexibility.
Examples of such stretching are arm circles before weight lifting, lunges, butt kicks, skips, and hops.
The damage can be gradual and may restrict the range of motion over time.
Static stretching requires holding a particular position for a certain time while remaining stationary.
Unlike dynamic stretching, there’s no muscle movement, and the stretching mostly serves as a cool-down technique after workouts.
It increases blood flow, muscle relaxation, and range of motion but doesn’t improve performance.
Some examples include holding a forward hold position and seated butterfly stretch.
Overstretching means stretching your muscles, tendons, and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion.
It can cause soreness, pain, and injuries, such as a strain, sprain, or a torn muscle.
You may feel slightly uncomfortable during a stretch, but stretching should never hurt.
Once the tension is released, the muscle tightens up and may become weaker than before. Muscles during static stretching tend to relax.
You move your muscle in and out of the stretching position to get farther into the stretch.
Muscles work like a spring that pulls your body out of the stretching position.
Ballistic stretching increases flexibility through a neurological mechanism.
However, holding a muscle in this position might reduce muscle spindle sensitivity.
It may even lead to tightened muscles instead of loosening them.
Active stretching involves using the internal forces generated by the body to stretch a muscle.
It helps the stretched muscles relax by reciprocal inhibition and increases their flexibility and strength.
An example is elevating your leg and holding it without any assistance in yoga to maintain the leg in that stretched position.
Passive (Relaxed) Stretching
In passive stretching, you stretch your muscles and move the joint through its range of motion with the help of external forces like props, bands, or even a partner.
It gives the muscles enough time to release fully.
It also relieves spasms in a healing muscle after an injury.
An example of this type of stretch is when someone gently pushes your leg toward you while lying.
Isometric stretching is another form of flexibility training that doesn’t involve joint movement.
You only contract and release your muscles without any movements.
It’s different from static stretching because it doesn’t involve extending muscles.
You only contract and release the target muscle.
It increases the flexibility and strength of the stretched muscle and decreases pain during and after stretching.
An example of such stretches is when you push against a wall to contract your leg muscles.
Isometric stretching makes a lot of demands on the muscles being stretched.
That’s because isometric contractions increase the risk of tendon and connective tissue injuries.
PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) is an advanced form of stretching that increases flexibility.
It involves passively holding and releasing the muscle repeatedly, increasing its range of motion.
An example of PNF would be a lying hamstring pull, by pushing against your hands to contract the muscle.
There are different types of PNF stretching, such as hold-relax, hold-relax-contract, hold-relax-swing, and hold-relax-bounce.
The hold-relax-contract PNF stretching is the safest PNF stretch as there’s no passive stretch.
However, the hold-relax-swing and hold-relax-bounce techniques increase the likelihood of injury significantly.
Risk of Injury When Stretching
Among the different types of stretches, PNF stretching, especially the hold-relax-swing and hold-relax-bounce techniques, has the highest risk of injury.
Then, static stretching, isometric stretching, and ballistic stretching increase the risk of injury to a great extent, respectively.
If you want to learn more about specific stretches, you can check out the books below.
How to Stretch Properly to Avoid Injury 🧐
Warm-Up Before Stretching
Some people consider stretching to be a warm-up exercise on its own.
However, you should warm-up before you start your stretching routine.
You can bring up your core temperature with a pre-stretching warm-up routine that increases muscle flexibility and sends more blood to your muscles and connective tissue.
You could take a brisk walk to warm up your muscles before stretching.
Check out this video for a useful warm-up routine before stretching.
Use a Proper Stretching Technique
Choosing the correct stretching technique for your fitness level and your target activity will help you avoid injury.
Incorrect stretches are ineffective or harmful, leading to hypermobility, instability, or permanent damage to the tendons, ligaments, and muscle fibers.
Hydration adjusts your body temperature and prevents muscle cramps.
It also increases blood flow and oxygen transfer to your muscles, preparing them for athletic performance.
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If you don’t stretch frequently, your muscles will become shorter, which causes stiffness, discomfort, and a restricted range of motion.
Incorporate stretching into your daily routine to see better and long-lasting results, move with ease and reduce the risk of injury and pain.
Avoid Exercising While Tired or in Pain
If you stretch an injured muscle, you will intensify the pain and prolong the recovery process.
Once the injury has healed, slowly start low-intensity stretching.
Stop stretching when you feel tired!
Tired muscles lose their elasticity, reducing the range of motion and flexibility and increasing the chances of injury.
Stop doing the movement when you reach the highest range of motion in a joint because overworked or overstretched muscles can’t reach a full range of motion.
So, you should fix these issues before training your muscles without reaching a full range of motion.
Breathe During Stretching
Conscious breathing makes stretching more effective. Breathing increases blood flow and delivers oxygen to the muscles.
It makes them relaxed and more receptive to stretch and improves athletic performance.
What to Do if Stretching Injures You? 🤔
To relieve the pain, you can use O.T.C. painkillers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
If these treatments aren’t effective and pain persists, see your doctor. You might need a cast or even surgery.
Final Thoughts 🤗
Stretching is a good pre and post-workout technique.
It greatly benefits individuals, from performance improvement in sports and other physical activities to avoid injuries.
However, if done improperly, it may lead to injury and pain.
Among the different types of stretching, PNF can have the highest risk of injury because you repeatedly hold and release the muscle, and if you don’t relax, you’ll injure it.
However, all stretching types can be risky since they’re prone to overstretching.
I hope you have learned which type of stretching has the highest risk of injury, so you can be more careful when doing stretches. Don’t forget to share this post before you go.
Last update on 2022-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API