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8 Terrible Stretching Mistakes And How To Fix It

Yeah, you can get too much of a good thing — stretching too. Therefore make sure to avoid some of the most common errors.

8 Terrible Stretching Mistakes And How To Fix It

Yeah, you can get too much of a good thing — stretching too. Therefore make sure to avoid some of the most common errors. It seems like a no-brainer to integrate a stretching regimen into your everyday routine, but it's a bit like eating your vegetables — you know you should do it, but actually doing it is a whole other problem. Moreover, before you start there are a few different aspects to consider.

Performing the wrong stretch style can not only mitigate the impact of the technique but can also cause an injury in fact. Take a look at these specific stretching errors to learn how best to correct them.

1. Hold Your Breath

As with the rest of your workout, it's necessary to breathe during stretching. When you're working on your flexibility, it's not unusual to unintentionally hold your breath, particularly if you're new to the stretching process or feel a bit stiff.

Unfortunately, this can keep your body tense and your muscles contracting. This, in effect, hinders the ability to relax and stretch out the muscle properly.

Quick Fix

To encourage your muscles to relax as you stretch, start by taking a deep inhalation before you start. Then exhale slowly as you step into the stretch and feel your muscle start pulling.

According to the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), continuing to breathe slowly and steadily as you feel your muscle strain will prevent the body from tensing.

One approach that the NASM recommends is to count out loud. This can trick you into breathing, as you will be forced to inhale and exhale each second as you count-out.

2. Stretching For Too Long

Especially if your aim is increased versatility, you can presume the better the outcome, the more you do. But when it comes to stretching that is not the case.

As reported in a systematic review published in The Foot in March 2018, raising the amount of time spent holding an ankle stretch from 3,000 seconds per week (about 7 minutes per day) to 5,000 seconds per week (about 12 minutes per day) did not result in any significant improvement in the joint motion range.

Quick Fix

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends keeping each stretch anywhere between 10 and 30 seconds to stretch a muscle group properly.

That should be performed for a minimum of 60 seconds per muscle (about 2 to 6 reps). And while they recommend that a muscle group be stretched at least 2 to 3 times a week, they also note that the greatest benefit can be the daily stretching.

3. Applying Too Much Force

You can experience a little pain every time you take a muscle and lengthen it past its usual stop point (like you do when you stretch). And though experiencing some sorrow as the stress rises is normal, you shouldn't experience intense pain.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, forcing a stretch too far can cause damage to the muscle itself or to the surrounding joints or ligaments. Every stretching that triggers something beyond malaise should be stopped immediately.

Quick Fix

Rather than pushing your stretches past what's comfortable, try reducing the pressure. Gently take the slack in the muscle before you feel a mild tug, says Eileen Compty, DPT, a licensed athletic trainer who has worked with the National Speed Skating Team in the United States. She recommends striving for an intensity scale of 3 to 4 out of 10.

4. Stretching In Case You’re Hypermobile

The vast majority of people can benefit from adding stretching to their fitness routine, but this is not true for people with hypermobility, making the joints, ligaments, and tendons of the body much more flexible than usual.

This increased flexibility puts individuals at a higher risk of injury if they extend their already lax muscles even further. According to the University of Wisconsin (UW), stretching a hypermobile joint may lead to sprains, a subluxation (partial dislocation), or developing osteoarthritis.

Quick Fix

Although slightly stretching tight areas in people with hypermobility can still be necessary, UW recommends focusing on a strengthening routine to provide support to the loose joints. Low-intensity aerobic activities such as walking or cycling can also be helpful in preserving your cardiovascular health overall.

Most importantly, consulting the doctor is vital for people with hypermobility to decide what different forms of exercise are suitable.

5. Picking The Wrong Kind Of Stretching

There are several types of stretches but static and dynamic are the two most common. Any such stretching option can be more suitable than the other, depending on your goals.

  1. Static stretches are performed when a muscle is pulled to the point of mild discomfort and held here for a set amount of time.
  2. Dynamic Stretches include the constant back and forth motion of a muscle between its stretched and relaxed positions.

Although the research is still mixed, a systematic review published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism in December 2015 found some evidence to support the notion that dynamic stretching may help you better prepare for physical activity.

It is because dynamic stretching warms the muscle more than static stretching, they theorized. This may also make your body more trained by closely mimicking the motions you'll be doing during your workout.

On the other hand, static stretching appears to be best suited for those looking to increase their range of motion overall. The previously cited systematic analysis in The Foot found that people on their ankle doing static stretches saw greater improvements in motion range than those who did dynamic (ballistic) stretching.

Quick Fix

All that wish to stretch before a workout will dynamically stretch out. To do this, start in a comfortable position with your muscle, and stretch it gradually until you feel a low to moderate pull.

Once you get to this point, gradually return the muscle once more to its shortened state. Continue to alternate rhythmically between 30 to 60 seconds between the two positions.

Anyone looking to increase the motion range at a specific joint (such as the shoulders or hips) can be best supported by static stretching. To do this, try to use the parameters set out in section 2 above.

6. Performing Static Stretches Before a Plyo Workout

Plyometric (aka plyo) exercises such as jumping or bounding involve a rapid muscle lengthening followed by a shortening of the high-velocity. Although stretching can seem like a good idea before this form of exercise, there is some evidence to suggest that stretching out a muscle will hinder its ability to produce power as it shortens rapidly.

The above-mentioned systematic analysis in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism states that athletes performing static stretches for prolonged periods of time reported significant declines in their performance during events such as long jumping, high jumping, and sprinting.

Quick Fix

The best way to train for a plyo workout may in reality be a dynamic stretching exercise rather than keeping a muscle passively at the end of its length. This stretch variation simulates more closely the movements you would make while doing a workout that involves fast movements such as jumping or bounding.

7. Stretching to Avoid Injury

Contrary to what you might hear, there's a growing body of evidence showing that stretching before exercising has less impact on injury prevention than previously believed.

There is minimal evidence that a regular stretching routine effectively prevents muscle injuries (such as sprains or strains) or more repetitive-type injuries (such as tendonitis), according to the systematic review in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. The same review also casts doubts as to whether stretching can improve muscle soreness later on before your workout.

Quick Fix

While there are some growing questions about the injury-preventing potential of stretching before you work out, this doesn't mean you should give it up entirely. On the contrary, the possible benefits of stretching (increased motion range, enhanced muscle performance) also seem to justify the time it takes to integrate it into your workout routine.

8. Stretching Without a Warm-Up

If you plan to do a static stretching session to improve your flexibility, it is important that you perform a proper warm-up routine before stretching. That's because blood flows to the muscles being used when you warm up and slightly raise their internal temperature.

This warming effect, in turn, makes the muscle more pliable and makes them better prepared to lengthen during a stretch.

Quick Fix

Mayo Clinic recommends a 5- to 10-minute warm-up before your stretches begin. These can include light aerobic exercises such as cycling, mountain biking or slow jogging.

Only a light dynamic warm-up can be performed which reproduces movements made during your sport or exercise. A baseball player, for example, can slowly swing a bat back and forth or complete some light throws with a partner until they stretch out their shoulders.

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YourFitnessRink - Fitness and Health Matters: 8 Terrible Stretching Mistakes And How To Fix It
8 Terrible Stretching Mistakes And How To Fix It
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