“Ooops!  I went too far!”

Is the actual response one of my patients gave when I asked her how her pain came about.  She had started a virtual workout routine three times a week to stay active, like many people have recently.  And as part of it, she added stretching before and after her workout.  Unfortunately, she “went too far.”  My recommendation is to stop stretching if it hurts.

If this sounds like you, read more to learn symptoms of overstretching, tips on the best ways to stretch and how physical therapy can you if you’ve overstretched.

Is it possible to overstretch?

Short answer: Yes.  But that doesn’t mean you should stop stretching all together.

Stretching is good for your muscles and should be a part of your workout routine.  Active stretches before a workout can warm up your body and help to prevent injuries.  Stretching after a workout helps the body recover.

Stretching will help you:

  • Improve your range of motion
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Decrease the risk to injury
  • Improve joint mobility

It is normal to feel discomfort while stretching as you improve your flexibility.  But there’s a fine line between that good stretch feeling and “oops! I went too far!”

There is a moment when you lean to stretch and suddenly experience extreme pain.  Many try to push through it and continue stretching, increasing their pain.  Others stop and try to stretch again the next day, only to have the extreme pain return.

It is possible, to have stretched so far past your body’s ability, that you may have strained or torn a muscle, or irritated a nerve.  When you stretch neurons within your muscles sends signals to your central nervous system that you’ve stretched too far.  As a reaction, your muscle will tighten and contract and you will feel a tightness and pain in that area.

If you feel a level of discomfort and pain, greater than what you normally experience, you may have gone too far and should stop.  A recent study shows that there are no advantages to stretching past the point of discomfort or pain.

Symptoms of Overstretching

The following symptoms may be a sign that you have overstretched causing a muscle tear or nerve irritation:

  • Sudden onset of pain
  • Limited range of movement
  • Decreased strength in that muscle
  • Bruising, swelling and/or knotted feeling
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle spasms

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, please call Advanced Physical Therapy Specialists at (305) 433-1172 so that we can identify if you have strained a muscle or irritated a nerve, and to determine how severe the damage is.  This will help us tailor an individualized rehabilitation program specific to treat the root cause of your problem and get you back to the activities that you enjoy!

Top 6 Stretching Tips

There are ways to safely stretch and increase your flexibility.  Stretching if done correctly can be beneficial.  So here are some stretching tips to prevent your from going “oops! I went too far!”:

  1.  Do not stretch as a warm up.  Stretching cold muscles can results in an injury.
  2.  Stretch slowly.  Do not force your body into any stretch into any position.
  3.  Hold your stretch.  Holding your stretch will give your muscles a chance to relax and go into a deeper stretch naturally.
  4.  Don’t bounce or jerk deeper into more of a stretch.
  5.  Always stretch both sides to achieve symmetry and not risk a muscle imbalance.
  6.  Stretch regularly (as long as there is no pain)

Overstretched? Next Steps!

Overstretching can cause muscle tears or nerve irritation, which can hinder you from participating in that activity or sport, or being able to get up and go!  A muscle or nerve injury that isn’t properly taken care of, can immobilize you for months.  So it is important to get proper treatment and rehabilitation through physical therapy.  Advanced Physical Therapy Specialists will assist you in determining the severity of your injury, and most importantly it will help you get back to your everyday activity or sport by guiding you through an individualized rehabilitation program.

If you are ready to get back out there, whether it’s a yoga class you’re starting out, or a more advanced form of workout,  Advanced Physical Therapy Specialists is here for you!  Click on the link to schedule your appointment and take the first step towards your recovery.