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Can you over-stretch? Forum Index -> Health and Wellness

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Joined: 31 May 2002
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PostPosted: 11/11/05 - 14:40    Post subject: Can you over-stretch?
Is there such thing as too much stretching?
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PostPosted: 11/11/05 - 15:53    Post subject: Re: Can you over-stretch?
akern wrote:
Is there such thing as too much stretching?

are you talking before running or after running? it is possible before activity to over stretch
rolling rock
The Pinball
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PostPosted: 11/14/05 - 07:07    Post subject:
i think there's such a thing as overstretching a cold muscle and causing damage, like a strain or micro-tear in it. the only stretch i'll do is after i run and even then i keep it gentle as to not cause "pain" when i'm doing it. a chiro also told me to use a heating pad before you intend to stretch if you haven't warmed up by exercising.

if you ease into a stretching or yoga program, i think it's really a valuable way to prevent other overuse running injuries, but again it has to be a gradual build up, just like any other exercise program.
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PostPosted: 11/14/05 - 07:17    Post subject:
great advice there RR. thumbs up
Gone Fishin
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PostPosted: 11/14/05 - 10:56    Post subject:
I asked my physical therapist running buddy about stretching and injuries. And the way he described it to me is there is an "acute" phase of an injury, which is the first 48-hrs. Stretching during this time is going to do more harm than good. And if you are running injured, odds are you are re-injuring and re-injuring yourself, so adding stretching is not going to be the answer.
Stretching is really a preventative measure and works on healthy muscles. So really, to answer the question, from what I've learned, yes, especially if there's injuries going on, overstretching is accomplished quite easily and counterproductive.
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PostPosted: 11/15/05 - 19:28    Post subject:
The answer is yes. The above replies are on the mark, for the most part. If muscles are "cold", it means they literally are cold. It also usually means they are dehydrated. Since blood is the medium which brings water and heat (blood is 98.6 degrees F at its source) to muscle, anything that slows blood flow (i.e., lowers heart rate) will cool and dehydrate muscle. Hence, stretching is not a warm-up, since, in most cases, it does nothing to increase heart rate substantially.

Further, if one tries to "stretch cold", there is increased risk of muscle strain (literally micro to macro tearing of muscle). Cold muscles are not as flexible to begin with, so are easier to strain. That's why the above poster's chiropractic physician recommended pre-heating with an external source if he didn't have time to warm up properly, that is, internally, by raising the heart rate and increasing blood flow (and water and heat) to the muscles.

So, is it possible to "overstretch"? Absolutely, in that sense. In another sense not talked about yet, it is possible to overstretch. Consider that different activities, such as running versus, say, gymnastics, require very different levels of flexibility. Would it be prudent for a runner to achieve the same flexibility as a gymnast? I'm not sure there is any scientific evidence to support that notion. However, if a runner hasn't stretched enough on a regular basis, that could hinder performance substantially. For example, if tight hamstrings cause a shortening of stride length, then that could be costly.

On the other hand, being able to do a Japanese split doesn't help a runner at all, in my opinion.

The timing of stretching may be the most important concept here. I do not believe that the average runner needs to stretch at all immediately before a training run or race. Not at all. What would be better is to simply warm-up by slow jogging, jogging then finally running over the course of about 15 minutes (5-5-5). Getting the heart rate up gradually and getting the body ready to run will NOT be achieved by stretching, especially static stretching with prolonged passive stretches. Yet most runners perform these stretches before a run. I think these runners are simply uneducated about their sport. No serious runner sits around keeping his/her heart rate low and then jumps up into full gear expecting to do well. But check out your local 5 or 10K race and watch what happens. Old habits die hard!

In addition, if you stretch before you run, your brain will not recognize the new muscle length you have given your muscles. Your brain remembers the last thing it did, such as "perfect running form". It remembers "hamstring muscle length" or "soleus muscle length". Stretching immediately before a run can cause a neurologic disruption in those muscle and movement memory patterns, and can ruin a performance just long enough to make the difference between a great run and a poor one, between first place and also-ran. So, too much stretching before a run is a bad idea. That's yet another way to answer the question.

The best way to stretch is AFTER a run, at least once, and on a regular basis every night for a half-hour or more. Stretch the muscles that did the most work that day. Stretch actively as well as passively. Move the joints. Prevent reciprocal inhibition of muscles. Prevent the muscle stretch reflex response. Exhale into stretches.

Finally, stretch your pectoral muscles daily, and your subscapularis muscles (internal shoulder rotators), one of the rotator cuff muscles, daily. Strengthen your thoracic extensors (the vertical upper back muscles). These extremely important muscles are ignored by too many personal "trainers" in gyms all across the nation, who are obsessed with bodybuilding exercises and stupid machines like the ones where you sit while you exercise your abs or back (Nautilus, Cybex, etc.) and do nothing related to the act of running whatsoever. Try one-legged exercises, like squats, Romanian dead-lifts (RDL's) lunges, balancing (wobble boards, balance pads, etc.), etc.

Running, after all, is a "one-leg-at-a-time activity" (TM), and should be trained as such.

With love,

Your friendly neighborhood chiropractic physician
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PostPosted: 03/03/09 - 03:51    Post subject:
There are many ways you can over stretch, either by doing it too long or too often. Either way, it will have negative effects on your running, which is why you should only do running stretches in moderation.
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