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Dangers Of Overstretching

When we stretch, we take our muscles to the point where we could feel a slight pull and then hold this position for a few seconds without any discomfort or pain.

However, in case one stretches the muscles beyond their normal range of motion, one might experience a muscle strain or a pulled muscle. This is known as overstretching. There are some real dangers of overstretching. Read below to know about the dangers of overstretching.

Dangers of Overstretching:

Stretching might be required to improve flexibility and usually people go through a stretching routine before and after their workouts or dance sessions.

However, there is a review that does not support the beneficial effects of pre-exercise or post-exercise stretching as an intervention addressing muscle soreness after exercise. Moreover, the evidence that was presented in the review does not support the role of stretching before exercise, in any reduction of lower extremity injury risk. However, further studies on this regard is still required.(1)

As of now, we are told to stretch before and after exercise for improving flexibility. Certain workouts even incorporate some special stretching exercises like Pilates or yoga. You can try these stretching exercises, but overstretching or stretching your muscles beyond their normal range of motion must be strictly restricted as it might cause injury.

Let us below talk about some of the dangers of overstretching.

Strains and Sprains:

Sometimes while a stretching routine, mostly while engaged in playing a sport or in a workout, overstretching might appear in the form of strains or sprains.

  • A strain is something that is caused by overstretching or overexerting a tendon or a muscle, while a sprain is generally caused by overstretching or tearing of a ligament.
  • You need to know that the first step for treating strains and sprains is R.I.C.E treatment, which includes rest, ice treatment, compress, and elevates.
  • The faster you apply the cold or ice packs on your injured area, the better would be the healing. You should apply ice for at least 15 to 20 minutes for 2-3 days following the injury to get relief.
  • Coming to the compress; you should be careful enough not to make it extremely tight. Wrap your injured area with an elastic bandage and loosen the bandage in case there is any swelling.
  • You should also note down about keeping your injured area elevated above your heart.
  • Still if you are experiencing pain, you should talk to your doctor and start taking acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or other prescription medications.

If there is no improvement in your symptoms, you might require a cast, or surgery in case you have a tear.

Micro Tears In Muscles:

One of the common problems is that when exercise enthusiasts overstretch while the muscle is still cold there occur micro-tears in the muscles. When you try to lengthen muscles in a tightened state, there is a risk of having “micro” tears in the muscles. If you are experiencing delayed pain in your stretched muscle that appears about 1-2 days after stretching, the pain could be most likely caused by tiny tears in the stretched muscles.

Pulled Muscles:

There are also other dangers of overstretching. You might experience a pulled muscle and the symptoms depend on the site and the severity of your injury. You might experience pain, muscle spasms, swelling, and limited ability to move the affected muscle. In case the affected muscle is in your leg, you might experience symptoms of weight-bearing. Pulled muscles can occur anywhere in your body that muscles and tendons are situated.

NOTE: In case you have a muscle pull or tear in your muscle, you should stop exercising and start osteopathic treatment.

Risk Of Overstretching in Young Children:

There are chances that young children, whose bones are yet not developed fully, might have a serious risk of damaging the shape of their hip socket or developing spinal stress fractures, or even spondylolisthesis due to overstretching.

Risk Of Arthritis:

If there are long-term, overstretched joints they might carry a greater risk of developing arthritic changes because of the wear and tear on the cartilage due to overstretching.

How To Know If You Are Overstretching?

When you are properly stretching, you can generally feel a slight pull in the muscle. This might help you in increasing flexibility over time.

As per the University of Rochester, you should begin your stretch slowly until you reach a point of muscle tension and at this point you should hold it for about 20 seconds.m Be known that stretching should not be painful.(2)

A sharp pain means that you are trying to stretch your muscles beyond their capacity for flexibility. This way you are overstretching and injuring yourself potentially.

One more indication of overstretching that has been presented by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT is feeling sore the next day after you stretched actually.(3) In case you feel sore the next day, it is suggested by MIT to reduce the intensity of some of the stretches that you do.


So by now we know that stretching might or might not have a real benefit in improving your flexibility or reducing your chance of injury; but overstretching does have a lot of dangers. So, to avoid overstretching you need to follow some steps, like properly warming up before workouts, using the correct form you’re your exercise, and while you are stretching, using the right pair of footwear, and staying well hydrated.

If you feel like you have seriously injured yourself because of overstretching, you should follow R.I.C.E treatment and also consult with your doctor without delay.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 28, 2020

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