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Which Type of Stretching Has the Highest Risk of Injury?

    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. 

    Which Type of Stretching Has the Highest Risk of Injury Issues

    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 🦵

    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

    Dynamic stretching involves muscle movement during the stretch.

    Dynamic stretches are safer

    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.

    Dynamic stretches are generally very safe. However, if you do them with excessive force, you may hurt your tendons, ligaments, or joints. 

    The damage can be gradual and may restrict the range of motion over time. 

     

    Static Stretching

    Static stretching requires holding a particular position for a certain time while remaining stationary. 

    Static Stretching Static Position

    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.

    Static stretching can isolate a muscle group better than other stretching techniques. Therefore, it can create a more intense stretch, putting you at risk of overstretching. 

    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.

    It isn’t recommended to warm up the body with static stretching since it causes the muscles to lose their power and sets them up for an injury. 

     

    Ballistic Stretching

    You move your muscle in and out of the stretching position to get farther into the stretch.

    Ballistic Stretching

    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.

    Ballistic Stretching can injure the joints since it doesn’t allow the muscles to adjust to the stretching position and relax. 

    It may even lead to tightened muscles instead of loosening them.

     

    Active Stretching

    Active stretching involves using the internal forces generated by the body to stretch a muscle.

    Active Stretching

    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.

    Passive (Relaxed) Stretching

    It gives the muscles enough time to release fully.

    It also relieves spasms in a healing muscle after an injury. 

    You can do passive stretching to cool down and prevent fatigue and muscle soreness after workouts. 

    An example of this type of stretch is when someone gently pushes your leg toward you while lying.

     

    Isometric Stretching

    Isometric stretching is another form of flexibility training that doesn’t involve joint movement.

    Isometric Stretching Tips

    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.

    You shouldn’t perform isometric stretching more than once every 36 hours for a given group of muscles. Also, children and young adults whose bones are still growing shouldn’t do these stretches. 

    That’s because isometric contractions increase the risk of tendon and connective tissue injuries.

     

    PNF Stretching

    PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) is an advanced form of stretching that increases flexibility.

    PNF Stretching

    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.

    In PNF stretching, you should remember to relax the targeted muscle for about 20 seconds before doing the next PNF technique. 

    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.

    Children shouldn’t do PNF stretching since their bones haven’t stopped growing. Also, you shouldn’t do it more than once every 36 hours for the targeted muscles. 

     

    Risk of Injury When Stretching 

    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.

    Overstretching can also occur with any stretching technique and increase the risk of injury.  

    If you want to learn more about specific stretches, you can check out the books below.

    Preview
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    Stretching to Stay Young: Simple Workouts to Keep You Flexible, Energized, and Pain Free
    Best For Beginners
    Stretching for Beginners: Improve Flexibility and Relieve Aches and Pains with 100 Exercises and 25 Simple Routines
    Best For 50+
    Stretching for 50+: A Customized Program for Increasing Flexibility, Avoiding Injury and Enjoying an Active Lifestyle
    Product Name
    Stretching to Stay Young
    Stretching for Beginners:
    Stretching for 50+
    User
    Any
    Beginners
    Over 50
    Pages
    210
    201
    144
    Improve Flexibility
    Relieve Aches and Pains
    Customizable Plans
    Kindle Available
    Overall Best
    Preview
    Stretching to Stay Young: Simple Workouts to Keep You Flexible, Energized, and Pain Free
    Product Name
    Stretching to Stay Young
    User
    Any
    Pages
    210
    Improve Flexibility
    Relieve Aches and Pains
    Customizable Plans
    Kindle Available
    Interested?
    Best For Beginners
    Preview
    Stretching for Beginners: Improve Flexibility and Relieve Aches and Pains with 100 Exercises and 25 Simple Routines
    Product Name
    Stretching for Beginners:
    User
    Beginners
    Pages
    201
    Improve Flexibility
    Relieve Aches and Pains
    Customizable Plans
    Kindle Available
    Interested?
    Best For 50+
    Preview
    Stretching for 50+: A Customized Program for Increasing Flexibility, Avoiding Injury and Enjoying an Active Lifestyle
    Product Name
    Stretching for 50+
    User
    Over 50
    Pages
    144
    Improve Flexibility
    Relieve Aches and Pains
    Customizable Plans
    Kindle Available
    Interested?

     

    How to Stretch Properly to Avoid Injury 🧐

     

    Warm-Up Before Stretching

    brisk walk

    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. 

    The warmer the muscles, the more flexible they are, and you can further stretch and release them. 

    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.

    Use a Proper Stretching Technique

    If you aren’t sure, consult with a professional to ensure the best stretching techniques for your body based on your condition.

    Incorrect stretches are ineffective or harmful, leading to hypermobility, instability, or permanent damage to the tendons, ligaments, and muscle fibers.  

     

    Stay Hydrated

    Hydration adjusts your body temperature and prevents muscle cramps.

    Stay Hydrated During Workout

    It also increases blood flow and oxygen transfer to your muscles, preparing them for athletic performance.

    So remember to take in adequate water during stretching and workout.

    Here are our top three flavored water brands to keep you hydrated and replace electrolytes. You can order them on amazon.

    Preview
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    Lemon Perfect - Organic Cold-Pressed Lemon Water - Squeezed from Real Fruit, Flavored Water, Sugar-Free, Keto Certified, No Artificial Ingredients - 6-Flavor Variety Pack (12-pack)
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    Hint Water Fruit Stand Variety Pack (Pack of 12), 16 Ounce Bottles, 3 Bottles Each of: Peach, Raspberry, Watermelon, and Lemon, Zero Calories, Zero Sugar and Zero Sweeteners
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    Sparkling Ice Purple Variety Pack, Flavored Sparkling Water, Zero Sugar, with Vitamins and Antioxidants, 17 fl oz, 12 count (Black Raspberry, Cherry Limeade, Orange Mango, Kiwi Strawberry)
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    Hint Water Fruit Stand Variety Pack
    Sparkling Ice Purple Variety Pack
    Sugar
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    None
    None
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    Four
    Four
    Calories
    Five
    Zero
    Five
    Overall Best
    Preview
    Lemon Perfect - Organic Cold-Pressed Lemon Water - Squeezed from Real Fruit, Flavored Water, Sugar-Free, Keto Certified, No Artificial Ingredients - 6-Flavor Variety Pack (12-pack)
    Product Name
    Lemon Perfect Organic Lemon Water
    Sugar
    None
    Flavors
    Six
    Calories
    Five
    Interested?
    Best Alternative
    Preview
    Hint Water Fruit Stand Variety Pack (Pack of 12), 16 Ounce Bottles, 3 Bottles Each of: Peach, Raspberry, Watermelon, and Lemon, Zero Calories, Zero Sugar and Zero Sweeteners
    Product Name
    Hint Water Fruit Stand Variety Pack
    Sugar
    None
    Flavors
    Four
    Calories
    Zero
    Interested?
    Best Price
    Preview
    Sparkling Ice Purple Variety Pack, Flavored Sparkling Water, Zero Sugar, with Vitamins and Antioxidants, 17 fl oz, 12 count (Black Raspberry, Cherry Limeade, Orange Mango, Kiwi Strawberry)
    Product Name
    Sparkling Ice Purple Variety Pack
    Sugar
    None
    Flavors
    Four
    Calories
    Five
    Interested?

     

    Stretch Regularly

    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

    Avoid Exercising While Tired or in Pain

    If you stretch an injured muscle, you will intensify the pain and prolong the recovery process.

    Injured tissues need a break to heal. Never perform stretching over an injured limb.

    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.

    Take care of your body

    Our muscles have kinesthetic memory, making them used to this shortened 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.

    Remember to breathe slowly and deeply during any type of physical exercise.  

     

    What to Do if Stretching Injures You? 🤔

    What to Do if Stretching Injures You

    If you injure yourself during stretching, stop stretching and try the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) protocol.

    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.

    See our post titled how do you recover from stretching for more information on what to do if you have overstretched. 

     

    Final Thoughts 🤗

    No matter how slow

    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

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    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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