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Stretching Myths Debunked

Stretching Myths Debunked

Over the years, you probably heard a lot of varying statements regarding stretching, especially those that sound utterly contradictory. The fact that stretching doesn’t work for everyone contributes to the myths evolving quickly. Stretches come in various forms, and which is best for you will primarily rely on your physical condition and objectives. 

When it comes to stretching, there is still a lot of uncertainty. Do you have minutes to spare? Continue reading as we debunk the popular myths about stretching and set the record straight. 

Myths About Stretching That You Need to Know

Woman doing balance foam roller exercises

Myth #1: Foam Rolling and Stretching Are the Same

You can imagine foam rolling as giving yourself a deep tissue massage since it releases your muscles’ myofascial restrictions rather than simply stretching them. According to stretch practitioners, foam rolling can help your scar tissue break down more effectively, hastening the body’s healing process. 

Although stretching will result in better flexibility, it may be claimed that foam rolling has all the advantages of stretching plus more as it penetrates deeply into your fascia. You should do both if you have the time to do so. 

Myth #2: Work Hard to Surpass the Discomfort

There will be times when stretching will feel challenging, but this journey does not require too much exhaustive activity. It’s preferable to avoid harm than to push yourself into an extreme situation in the short term, only to suffer an injury that will keep you out of the game in the long run. When you approach your training sessions, always remember to put safety first. Consider developing your flexibility as a protracted adventure rather than a task that needs to be completed immediately. 

We advise you to take a rest or alter the stance if you experience any “crunching,” “intense compressing,” or “smashing” of joints and muscles. How do you tell the difference between discomfort that will impede your development and feelings that result from entering a new range of motion? On a scale of 1 to 10, aim for a level of discomfort of 5 to 6. In this way, your body can gradually adjust. 

To increase your flexibility, you don’t need to work out with extreme intensity; consistency and safe progressions matter. So that your body can adjust to a new norm, trust the process and concentrate on strengthening and stabilizing near the conclusion of your range of motion. 

Try a modification that will target the exact area differently that is better suited for your body, especially if something in a class ever doesn’t feel right. Examples of which are as follows: 

  • Readjusting your hips and relaxing out of your split, or 
  • Performing a high-V straddle on your back rather than attempting a froggy position. 

It is better to approach the problem differently if your discomfort is more intense than the stretching sensation. Additionally, suppose you have a significant illness or injury that limits your ability to train. In that case, we advise working with a healthcare provider like a physical therapist so that you may get specialized help with your adaptations and restrictions. 

Myth #3: Stretching Lowers Your Risk of Injury

There is no proof that a stretched muscle is less likely to sustain damage. Nevertheless, there are specific stretches you can do before working out to reduce the risk of injury. The critical distinction is that dynamic stretching prepares your muscles and the passive supporting structures of your body (tendons, ligaments, cartilage, etc.) for the demands of the following workout rather than concentrating on extending your muscles. 

Additionally, it enhances intra- and intermuscular coordination and boosts muscle blood flow. One of the most crucial aspects of warming up is increasing your muscle temperature, which is accomplished by increasing blood flow through proper stretching. 

Myth #4: Exercising Lengthens Your Muscles

According to studies, improving flexibility may be caused by a higher “stretch tolerance” rather than by the lengthening of your muscle fibers. The ability of your nervous system to feel the physical effects of stretching is referred to as stretch tolerance. By lowering the discomfort experienced at the end of the range of motion, you can achieve greater flexibility. 

Your body can alter structurally over time and with constant exercise, but most of the improvements you’ll notice in the short term will be related to stretch tolerance. Because of this, it’s crucial to approach your training with a positive attitude and mindful breathing. Flexible thought equals a flexible body! 

Fit woman doing stretching workout at gym

Myth #5: If You Stretched Before or During Your Workout, You Could Skip the Stretch

If you’re pressed for time, omitting a stretch routine at the end of a workout won’t harm you. However, always try to fit it in if you have the time. Experts say stretching after exercise helps lessen muscle soreness and exhaustion and boost blood circulation, which can hasten the healing process. Because of this, you’ll be able to exercise sooner without much muscle soreness. 

Static stretches may make you feel less exhausted after a workout because your muscles are already warmed up at this stage. For example, you may want to do a calf stretch or hamstring stretch after you go for a run. 

Myth #6: You Don’t Need to Stretch if You’re Already Flexible

Exercises for flexibility can be very beneficial for you, even if you are already flexible. For those who are hypermobile by nature, strengthening and stabilizing exercises are helpful. Each stretch session emphasizes an active approach with good technique and muscular engagement. It is a safe, healthy workout. 

Even if it’s no sweat for your foot to reach your head, this interaction can be pretty difficult for those who are hypermobile. Additionally, aging might cause you to lose flexibility and mobility, so developing healthy living patterns that include frequent exercise is critical. 

Myth #7: Stretching Helps You Perform Better

Dynamic stretching can help the body become more flexible for most regular gym attendees and amateur athletes. According to stretch practitioners, stretching may make it simpler to carry out specific exercises, execute certain movements, or maintain particular poses. It enhances joint mobility, which may make your muscles work more effectively. 

On the other hand, competitive athletes may perform worse if they stretch first. According to some studies, various stretching techniques may hinder some athletes, such as sprinters, high jumpers, or weight lifters, as they risk overworking the muscles required for peak performance. 

Myth #8: Before Working Out, Go Straight to Deep or Vigorous Stretching

You may follow outdated advice and start vigorous or deep stretching just before working out. Breaking news: It’s highly not recommended! Don’t jump into deep stretches, even though mobility exercises that increase blood flow to your muscles and joints can be beneficial to warm up. This may cause injury and weaken your muscles. 

Before attempting more advanced flexibility poses, finish the warm-up phase. Moreover, it is acceptable to continue your training once your body has warmed up thoroughly and has had time to prepare. 

Myth #9: Stretching Can Help You Avoid Getting Hurt

Although not totally a myth, stretching may or may not help you from getting hurt. Most stretching practitioners and other specialists agree that extension provides some safety level. Stretching, when done correctly, can lower your risk of injury because it improves how your joints move and blood flow to the muscles. 

However, studies have shown that stretching doesn’t make people any less susceptible to injury than those who don’t. Stretching before a workout won’t make it impossible for you to strain a muscle or sprain your ankle. 

Myth #10: There Is No More Hope if You Aren’t Flexible

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding stretching is that you can’t get more flexible if you’re not already flexible. People frequently complain that they wish they were flexible, but that’s just how life is, lamenting that they weren’t born to do such things. 

Always remind yourself that change is possible! You can gain advantages from stretching, beginning with any degree of flexibility. In addition to all the emotional benefits of stretching, studies have shown that flexibility exercise can increase blood flow, relieve muscle tension, and make your muscles operate more efficiently. 

Stretching will become increasingly challenging as you age. However, it’s a means to stay flexible, keep your balance, and delay the consequences of aging. If you don’t consider yourself flexible and want your joints and muscles up and running, intensify your commitment to stretching regularly. 

Myth #11: Everyone Should Stretch in the Same Way

Stretching techniques should differ from one another. According to research, static stretching may be adequate for people who want a little more flexibility for gymnastics, dance, or even spinning. In contrast, dynamic stretching is preferable for people who engage in activities like running or leaping. 

Age and biological sex are also important. Longer hold durations, but basic stretching exercises may benefit senior citizens. Additionally, a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found that static stretching benefits women and older people over 65. In contrast, men and older adults under 65 respond better to contract-relax stretching. When in doubt, get advice from a stretch practitioner. 

Myth #12: You Should Always Stretch Your Joints and Muscles Before Starting an Exercise

In general, it’s safer to warm up your muscles by doing some jumping jacks or a moderate jog before engaging in static stretching, which is the form of stretching you do when your body is at rest. Experts warn you that stretching too hard before your body warms up increases your risk of pulling or straining a muscle. 

The exception to this rule is that you can choose dynamic stretching instead of static stretching, which involves using movement or momentum while stretching. This type of stretching essentially combines warm-up exercises with stretching. Nonetheless, you have complete freedom to choose. 

Pre-exercise stretching can, in some instances, actually improve performance, but knowing how long to stretch is crucial. The results of a meta-analysis of studies on stretching and the capacity to produce strength or power during future efforts were rather conclusive. 

The capacity to jump, sprint, or exert force during resistance training was unaffected by holding stretches for fewer than 30 seconds. Stretches held for 30 seconds or longer cause a decline in force production, with more extended stretch periods causing a more pronounced decline. 

Just a simple tip: Before you exercise or start playing your favorite sport, stretch dynamically and briefly with static stretching. Likewise, move the muscles through a range of motion that gets increasingly wider to increase circulation and get the body ready for action. 

Myth #13: Exercise Weakens Your Body

Sometimes stretching is completely disregarded, especially by athletes worried about compromising their performance or losing strength. Before performing a high-intensity lift or action, holding prolonged static stretches may affect the muscle’s cycle of stretch-shortening. 

However, most people can’t or don’t want to hold a prolonged passive hamstring stretch before launching into a challenging set of back squats or deadlifts. Breathing, relaxation, and a parasympathetic state are necessary for effective muscular stretching. 

Although several individuals probably think of stretching as forcing their ligaments, joints, and connective tissues into an aggressive end range of motion and uncomfortably holding them there until the discomfort becomes unbearable, it’ll significantly help improve the body. 

Experts say that performing appropriate stretching actually enhances strength because it allows the muscles to contract accordingly and produce force over a broader range of motion. 

client being stretched on a stretching table

Get a Stretching Studio That Can Help You Stretch the Right Way

At Stretch Zone, we do our best to provide you with quality service. Your muscles and fascial tissue will loosen up and expand thanks to the active stretching techniques used by our stretch practitioners. This freedom ties everything together so you can perform at your absolute best.  

From where you are to where you want to go, how you do stretches will be guided. In this way, you’ll be able to avoid the myths that can harm your body and health. Contact us if you want to make an appointment.