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Are You Making These Stretching Mistakes?

By Sara Butler

Stretching is an important part of physical fitness. Staying flexible can help you to avoid injury and help your joints to move as they were made to, reduce joint restriction and dysfunction. But simply going through a quick stretching routine before and after your workout isn't going to cut it. You need to learn about the most common stretching mistakes and, more importantly, how to fix them!

Static Stretches Before a Workout

For a long time, people thought that static stretches before a workout were the way to go, but it's now understood that stretching your muscles like that before they've had time to warm up is not a great idea. In fact, it can increase your risk of muscle strain during your workout -- and that's exactly what you're trying to avoid.

The best thing you can do for your muscles before a workout is to do dynamic stretching instead and save the static stretching for after your workout. These stretches work by using active movement to help stretch. They warm your muscles up as you stretch. So, throw in a few lateral lunges, cat-cows, and single-leg deadlifts in before your workout to help your muscles be at their best.

You Force the Stretch

In order for a stretch to be truly effective, it's something you must relax into. The problem is, many people attempt to force the stretch, which hurts and can lead to muscle strain. Remember, the muscle is weakest at its end range, If you try to stretch as the end range and force it, then you're at a higher risk of hurting yourself.

The best thing you can do is ease into all your stretches. Don't try to force it but instead breathe deep, relax, and then back off when you push it too far.

You Don't Strength Train

Stretching and strengthening are like peas and carrots -- they always go together. Many times, people stretch like crazy but still find certain muscle groups are tight and never seem to get looser. This is likely because the muscles are weak and holding tight is how they can work to keep their tone.

Work on your strength and you'll find that it's easier to stretch and become more limber. Make sure you work on muscle groups that oppose one another, such as the front and back of the leg. Remember, it's all about balance!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Arvada, Colo.

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