Can you stretch too much?
Posted: May 11 2020
Our last blog post was all about stretching and flexibility, but can you overdo it? And what if you’re hypermobile? We’ve drawn together some useful nuggets for you here, and we also invite you to get in contact with any questions or concerns, which we can then refer to our experts.
Firstly, is there such a thing as over-stretching?
Yes. One risk of extensive stretching is that if you’re very flexible but not strong enough then you are at risk of injury. In addition, if you hold stretches for too long then you can start to damage your ligaments, which aren’t as robust and quick to repair as your muscles.
We'd also like to take a moment to remind you that in our last blog post we touched upon why stretching for longer than 2 minutes is useless because you reach your maximum around 2 minutes.
So all in all, if you're in the habit of sitting in a stretch for more than two minutes, not only are you wasting your time but you might actually start to do damage... perhaps it's time to change your habits?
We spoke to Tasha Danischewsky who is a physiotherapist at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge. She said:
“In terms of holding stretches too long or too much, the problem here is you’re pushing past the normal range of your joints. If you hold for too long then your body might start to over-compensate elsewhere and cause injuries. Remember you should only feel mild discomfort when stretching.”
Tasha added that “The problem is, if you’ve got a muscle tear it will feel tight because that’s the muscle trying to protect itself and it’s a normal part of repair. If you then stretch you’re going to damage the muscles further. So my advice is if you’re feeling unusual tightness in a specific area, or especially if you feel pinpoint pain, then go very easy.”
What if I’m hypermobile?
This is a tricky one, but nothing to worry about. You just need to know your own body and be sensible.
First off, be aware of which joints your hypermobility exists in, as it may not be all. If you’re unsure about this then we recommend speaking to your doctor or a physiotherapist.
Secondly, the general advice for hypermobile joints is to focus on strengthening those muscles rather than stretching them. You may need a gentle stretch at the end of class to help alleviate muscle ache, however you may be better off doing extra strengthening instead of lengthy passive stretches. Our advice would be to select some Pilates exercises that you know will help to strengthen your weak areas, and to do those gently in your cool down instead. (For some Pilates tips and links visit our first Blog post.) Or speak to a physiotherapist if you want to find something more specific and targeted for you.
“If you’re hypermobile you have more ‘elastic’ fibres. Your ligaments and tendons are more relaxed so your joints are more flexible, therefore your muscles are longer across those joints. If you train your strength then the muscles might still feel tighter even if you’re still flexible… so it’s useful to stretch to maintain mobility, but don’t push it further because you might damage your joints. Focus on strengthening, to support your joints.”
“If you think you might be hypermobile then it’s nothing to worry about, however if you do have any problems, or especially if you also suffer from shortness of breath, then I recommend visiting a doctor. Keep an eye on your general health.”
That’s all for today, folks!
We’ve kept it a short one ;) . (A couple of our previous posts got a bit lengthy... Whoops.)
Don’t forget to get in contact if you’ve got ideas and themes that you’d like us to explore in these blog posts, by emailing hello@boysdancetooUK.com