Active Recovery

Stretching Experts Explain How to Tell If You’re *Overstretching*

Kara Jillian Brown

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Hot yoga is perfect when you’re feeling tight, because the heat loosens your muscles, allowing you to go a bit deeper. But sometimes, you can feel a little too open. I’ve definitely had moments where I popped into a pose way too easily, and felt like I was overstretching my muscle to a length it had no business going.

Co-founder of Body Evolved and physical therapist Corinne Croce, DPT, explains that the issue here is lack of control, which is something that can happen with or without heat.

“Flexibility is the available length a tissue has and can be moved into,” says Croce. “Mobility is the ability to move and control the tissue throughout a range of motion.  Without control over ones available range of motion/tissue length, injury risk is higher.”

Austin Martinez, the director of education at StretchLab, says strength is the key to maintaining control.

“There’s no point just being as flexible as s pretzel or a gymnast if you don’t have the proper strength to protect your body within that range of motion,” says Martinez, who is also a certified trainer and strength and conditioning specialist. “On the flip side there’s, no point of being, you know, the world’s biggest bodybuilder, if you can’t even put your hands behind your back.”

You can be overstretched in a few different ways. “Overstretching typically means the length of the tissue is greater than ones ability to control said length,” she says. “It can also mean a muscle is stretched past its point of natural elasticity and healthy tissue length.” She says this can happen more frequently in those with hyper-mobile joints. Martinez says a hyper mobile joint has really loose ligaments, which allow the joint to move further than it needs to.

You may be overstretching if a certain move makes you feel vulnerable, Croce says. Like if you take one wrong step, or movement that something will go wrong. The best way to tell, she says, is to get a movement assessment by a professional. “However, if you feel extreme flexibility throughout a stretch, can move to excessive range of motion positions, can position yourself in typically hard to reach postures, one can assume they have excessive range and should avoid stretching and focus on mobility work.”

Mobility and stability drills are necessary to increase control over your flexibility. Croce says controlled articular rotations (CARS) are excellent drills for mobility. “Find a certified Kinstretch or Functional Range Conditioning specialist to educate yourself and to gain individualize information on practices focused on joint and muscle range control,” she says.

Whatever exercise you’re doing, Croce says to make sure you’re properly warmed up and working within your available controlled range of motion, not to your max muscle length.

An instructor shares how to do yoga for core strength:

 

These five foot posture exercises feel a lot like a foot massage, and these chest-opening yoga moves “flush out” your lungs for more open breathing.

 

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