Done properly, stretching can do more than just increase flexibility. Benefits include increased relaxation, increased body awareness, reduced risk of injury, and reduced muscle soreness and tension. Unfortunately, stretching is not always done properly. Therefore, the benefits are not always realized. Common mistakes include stretching cold muscles, overstretching, performing exercises the wrong way, and shallow breathing.
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Occasionally, the progression of sensations you feel as you reach the extreme ranges of a stretch are localized warmth of the stretched muscles, followed by a burning (or spasm-like) sensation, followed by sharp “ouch!” pain. The localized warming usually occurs at the muscle’s origin or point of insertion. When you begin to feel this, it is your first clue that you may need to “back off” and reduce the intensity of the stretch.
If you ignore (or do not feel) the warming sensation, and you proceed to the point where you feel a definite burning sensation in the stretched muscles, then you should ease up immediately and discontinue the stretch! You may not feel soreness right away, but you probably will the next day. If your stretch gets to the point where you feel sharp pain, it is quite likely that tissue damage has already occurred and may cause immediate pain and soreness that persists for several days.
Click here for Trigger Point Therapy information to help your stretching be even more effective!