Stretching is a popular activity that can be practiced on its own, but is generally used in tandem with fitness training. When done properly, it helps to prepare the body for exercise by loosening tight muscles and moving joints through their full range of motion. In addition, stretching can help you recover from your workout by increasing delayed muscle onset soreness.

While stretching offers many benefits, it won’t be beneficial when done improperly. In fact, poorly executed stretches may cause injuries and inflexibility. To avoid this happening to you, read about these 6 stretching mistakes that people make when exercising.

1. Over Stretching

Over-stretching is a common fitness-training error that can manifest in one of two ways. When you hold a stretch for too long or use too much force, this puts undue stress on the muscles in use. The recommended longest time to hold a stretch is 60-seconds. Going beyond that will significantly reduce the power of the target muscles.

Stretching should not be painful, but you will feel tightness when lengthening the muscles involved to their full range of motion. If you feel pain when stretching, this is a surefire sign of over-stretching with too much force. Stretching too hard can tear muscle ligaments and tendons. Luckily, you can avoid strain injuries by adjusting your joints to regulate the intensity of a stretching pose.

2. Bouncing Around During Static Stretches

You may be tempted to bounce around after positioning your body into a stretching pose as a way of pushing yourself further, but that will do more harm than good. Much like over-stretching, bouncing around when performing static stretches increases the risk of tearing the muscle and tendon. For static stretches, the best practice is to gradually elongate the target muscles and hold the stretching pose for 30-60 seconds. Adopting this approach will go a long way in ensuring that you don’t suffer strain injuries while stretching.

3. Maintaining Incorrect Form

It is imperative that you always maintain good form when performing physical workouts, and stretching is no exception. Getting into the wrong position when stretching leads to two negative outcomes. Either this will put strain on supportive muscles and joints, or you will not feel the stretch. Therefore, ensure to learn and implement proper form for various stretching workouts that you incorporate into your fitness routine. This will prevent unnecessary injuries and ensure that you won’t miss the muscle you intend to stretch.

4. Stretching Injured Muscles

Sometimes injured individuals decide to stretch even after suffering a torn ligament or tendon. This may be out of fear that the injured joint or muscle may become weak if not used for a prolonged period. However, rest is important for recovery. If you stretch an injured muscle, you risk causing further damage. The recommended practice is to introduce low-intensity stretching gradually only after the fitness injury has healed.

5. Stretching Without Warming Up

People who are inexperienced in fitness training think that stretching is the main warm up routine. This misconception leads to the common mistake of stretching cold muscles, which increases the risk of suffering a tear or rip.

Before stretching, you need to warm up the muscles through a light cardio workout that will get your core temperature and heart rate up. This increases your muscles’ range of motion and makes them more limber and better prepared to handle intense physical exertion.

6. Using the Wrong Method of Stretching

Stretching exercises fall in one of two categories: static and dynamic. Static stretching (which involves holding a stretch at a standstill position for a brief period) is often done after workouts. It is calming and offers a good way to cool down and catch your breath after exercise. On the other hand, dynamic stretches (which rely on motion to lengthen muscles) are best practiced before a workout since they help to increase core temperature and heart rate.

Many beginners confuse these two stretching techniques. If you fall into this trap as well, you will make the blunder of implementing the wrong type of stretching. This in turn can compromise your performance in sports and fitness training.

In conclusion, always remember that stretching is a very important component of fitness training. It will help you to improve performance when implemented into your warm up and cool down routine. However, you must stretch with care. By avoiding the pitfalls described above, you will be well on your way to making the most out of stretching exercises.

Why everyone should stretch regularlyIf you want to learn more about why stretching is so important, you might want to download our eBook “Stretching For Everyone”. We published this eBook to help prevent injuries and you can download it for FREE by going here:

Why Everyone Should Stretch Regularly