This Is Why Your Muscles Tingle When Stretching and How To Prevent It, According to a Physical Therapist

Photo: Getty Images/ jacoblund

Stretching is an important element to any workout routine and will help prevent injury, loosen up tight muscles, improve your flexibility, and make any soreness you may be feeling go away. But sometimes weird things can happen, like feeling your muscles tingle while you're stretching, and chances are you might be wondering if you should be concerned or not.

It's not uncommon to experience muscle tingling as you stretch, according to Leada Malek, PT, DPT, CSCS, SCS, a board-certified sports specialist in San Francisco. "Stretches should be felt in the muscles for the best outcome, so if there's tingling, it may be a good idea to modify the stretch," says Dr. Malek. If you are feeling tingling in your muscles as you stretch, it could be caused by tight muscles surrounding your nerves. Another possibility is nerve irritation from injury or overuse, for example, leading to oversensitiveness of the nerve as you stretch. Additionally, "the sensitivity to the stress could come on due to limb positioning, holding the stretch for too long, or the irritated nerve itself," she says.

Experts In This Article

Although the tingling sensation may seem unusual to you, Dr. Malek says it isn't a cause for concern. "I wouldn't call it a concern unless it's especially uncomfortable or the tingling persists for more than a few minutes or causes an ache after the fact," she says. If you do feel tingling, Dr. Malek recommends modifying the stretch in order for it to feel more comfortable. If not, and you stretch an irritated nerve, it can "light up symptoms into the next 24 hours and could include muscle tightness, aching, some pain, or numbness and tingling," she says. If that happens, Dr. Malek recommends making note of the stretch and the position that caused the discomfort and to modify once the symptoms settle and you stretch that muscle group again.

Another way to avoid tingling as you stretch is to add a soft bend to the joint of the muscle you're stretching, adjusting your posture, or not going as deep into the stretch or holding it for as long. "For example, with a straight-leg hamstring stretch, you'd want to make sure you have a straight back and spine and stop before tingling, or add a soft bend in the knee if that's already a deep stretch," she advises.

As a general rule, you should never experience pain as you stretch, and if you do, we recommend consulting your primary care physician or a physical therapist to discuss your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to reduce and alleviate any pain you may be experiencing.

Got tight muscles? This 20-minute full-body stretch routine is *exactly* what you need:

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