January 20, 2021 2 min read
To improve your flexibility and prime your body for exercise, you should always start with a warm-up consisting of stretching. However, feeling the burn isn’t always beneficial—you could be overstretching your muscles. Let’s look at the dangers of overstretching your muscles so that you can identify issues before you hurt yourself.
The adage of “No pain, no gain” is not a motto you want to live by. When you’re doing your stretches, you should certainly push your limits, but only to the point of feeling muscle tension as you stretch. Sharp or stabbing pains in your muscles are not desirable, and they may cause an injury from over-stretching, such as ligament or joint pain. This is especially true if you use home fitness equipment such as dumbbells to add extra resistance to your warm-up and end up overexerting yourself.
The effects of overstretching typically include aches and soreness, but they may also be as extreme as bruising, swelling, and even muscle spasms. A mild muscle strain may only last a few days and feel a bit off, but a major strain may take months to heal.
You should also know the difference between dynamic and static stretching as well as when which form of stretching is most appropriate. Dynamic stretching is ideal for a warm-up because it focuses on controlled movements that prepare your muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues for the best performance. Static stretches, on the other hand, are single positions that you hold in place for a period of time, such as toe touches. These are best saved for the cool-down period, when your muscles are loose, flexible, and able to provide a full range of motion and endurance for holding a tense position.
So, how do you avoid the dangers of overstretching your muscles? The simplest answer is to ensure you’re staying within your range of flexibility, which is easy to figure out now that you know you want to avoid feeling any sharp pains. Remember, pushing yourself means only going as far as feeling tension within your muscles, not pain.
Other factors that will help you avoid overstretching include staying hydrated, wearing clothes and footwear conducive to exercise, and practicing good form in your stretches. If you feel overly tired or if you’re in pain from the last time you exercised, you should take the day off.
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