5 stretching mistakes even professional performers keep making

Are you wondering why your flexibility doesn't seem to develop at all even if you are very committed to your stretching regimen? Here are a few common mistakes that may delay you seeingimprovements, or may even harm you.

1. Bounce when you stretch

The most common mistake I see among peers or the most inexperienced athletes isbouncing when stretching. The most grotesque example of this is when you see someone throwing his or herlimbs in different direction as a pre-workout - in fact the best way to shock your body and micro-tear muscle fibres. Apart from the fact that you risk injuring yourself, you areNOT preparing your body for any physical activity this way! If you are looking for a proper warm-up, this is the wrong strategy! Stop now! It would be safer for you to just raise your heartbeat with a cardiovascular light activity for 10 to 15 minutes.

In any case, once you reach your maximum extension, your body is in an extreme state and bouncing will NOT help; your muscles will react by contracting as a result of the threat. You want to find a way to fatigue the muscles into letting go.

2. Be too passive

If you still can talk, laugh, read or be distracted during a real stretching session, it means you are not doing it right: SIMPLE!

I don't consider casual light stretching as a way to become more flexible, but simply a way to relax or heal your body (for example: stretching while watching TV or working at the computer, or myofascial release).

If your goal is to really stretch and improve your flexibility skills, then, as with anything else, be committed, concentrate your whole attention and energy on what you are doing with the right intensity, duration and technique.

3. You do not stretch a specific muscle long enough

Regardless of the body part you are stretching, you should never stay in the position less than 30 seconds, this being the absolute minimum for a special area before you start letting go. 

Starting slowly and eventually stretching to full range and beyond is the key. Again, pulling a muscle for a few seconds won't make you any better at something,  apart from risking a injury.

4. Confuse discomfort with pain or vice versa

We all have different pain thresholds so you will have to get to know yourself enough to be the judge of happy pain versus injury pain, and fix your own limits. When stretching, you should be in considerable discomfort, what I call a happy pain. This is not to be confused with an injury pain. I can help you push your own limits, while staying in a secure space for your body and avoiding injuries. Don't be this over-motivated person who's too proudto stop pulling on a screaming hamstring. To be clear: that is not courage, it's nonsense.

5. Deep stretch on a cold body

That one is a no-brainer, of course! But then, why do I see so many people arriving late at a dance, karate, gymnastics or whatever class and instead of WARMING UP, they stretch. Does that remind you of someone?  

Go run in circle for 5 minutes before you ever stretch any muscle!

These 5 common mistakes are covering very basic information for everyone, but it seems like evenelite athletes sometimes need a reminder. 

Improvements are not only for the best, whether your immediate goal is to touch the floor bending forward or to perform a standing 180-degree split or even a 270-degree  passive over-split - the basics are practically the same.

Happy stretching!!!

Erika

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