Why Does Stretching Hurt?

Stretching is a very important thing to do before any kind of sport. It ensures that our muscles are completely stretched out and warmed up before moving our bodies too quickly or vigorously, which could potentially lead to injury if we haven’t done so.

It is generally accepted by most people that stretching should feel good. We all know how good it feels to stretch our arms and backs after a long sleep, moving around those muscles that have remained still for 8 to 9 hours.

Why Does Stretching Hurt?

This is why is can be confusing when we’re stretching before a work-out or a game, only to experience some discomfort.

Why does stretching hurt sometimes? Should stretching hurt? What does it all mean?

In this guide, we will take a further look into stretching, and work out exactly why you are experiencing pain and discomfort.

So, let’s jump straight into it.

Should Stretching Hurt?

The thing is, if you are not a particularly active person, and you are stretching for the first time, it is likely that you are going to experience some discomfort. After all, your body will not be used to moving in certain ways, so it is not going to feel pleasant at first.

In fact, certain stretches may always feel a little uncomfortable. The whole point of stretching is to warm up your muscles, and stretch them out so that they are able to be more flexible as you move.

Sometimes, stretching can feel good. You know when you first wake up in the morning, and you stretch your arms above your head, or you lean back and stretch your back?

It feels good because you haven’t moved in a couple of hours, and you are used to moving your back and arms throughout the day.

You are more likely to, for example, stretch your arms out on a daily basis than you are to touch your toes, unless you are a fairly fit person. Therefore, if an unfit person tries to touch their toes for the first time in a while, it isn’t going to feel good.

So, should stretching hurt? Technically, no. 

However, just because it doesn’t hurt, doesn’t mean that it should feel good

As an athlete, there is a fine line between feeling uncomfortable and knowingly hurting yourself. That is why it is so important to know the difference between the two, to avoid pulling a muscle or tearing a ligament while stretching.

Reasons that Your Body Hurts While you Stretch

Below, we have listed a bunch of reasons why your body may be hurting while you are performing stretches. Hopefully you will be able to identify while one resonates with you and your issues, so you can focus on fixing it for the future.

Why Does Stretching Hurt?

Incorrect Stretching Techniques

The first thing to think about – if you are experiencing pain and discomfort while stretching – is to consider whether you are using the correct stretching techniques.

If you are moving in the wrong way, even if just slightly, you may be pulling specific muscles in a direction that they shouldn’t be pulled in. If done too often, or too vigorously, this may result in an injury.

The best thing to do is to research your specific stretches, and work out if you are performing them exactly as you should be. If not, you risk causing further harm to your body, which will hurt even more if you end up pulling a muscle!

Inflexibility

As we mentioned earlier, stretching is going to feel uncomfortable if you are not a particularly flexible person to start off with. If you haven’t tried to touch your toes in 10 years, it is undoubtedly going to hurt a little the first time that you try it.

Unfortunately, like most things in the active world, this is a Catch 22 situation. The only way to stop feeling pain while stretching is to stretch more frequently. 

The more you stretch, the more flexible you will become.

So, if you are not a very active person, and you are not used to stretching your limbs, this is likely the reason that you are in pain when you do so. This pain will pass with time and experience, so be patient and stick with it!

Overstretching/Damaged Muscles  

Lastly, we have a fairly obvious point to make. If you are performing the same stretches every day, and you have suddenly noticed a sharp pain in your leg as you stretch, it is likely that you have pulled a muscle in that area.

You may have damaged a muscle through a workout or playing a sport, although it is entirely possible that you could’ve pulled something while actually stretching.

If you have damaged a muscle, you would be better off sticking to smaller, less demanding stretches to ease it out. Do not attempt anything too strenuous, as this may result in further damage.

Having said this, smaller, gentle stretches will help the muscle to heal. The best thing you can do is research helpful stretches for a pulled muscle, or speak to a medical professional for some advice on what to do moving forward.

Final Thoughts

So, there we have it. Stretching shouldn’t hurt, but if you haven’t been very active lately, you are likely to experience some discomfort while stretching your muscles out for the first couple times.

If you are experiencing extreme discomfort, however, it is possible that you may not be performing the stretches correctly.

Or, worse, you may have overstretched, which has resulted in a pulled muscle. In this case, you will need to take a rest, and allow your muscles to heal before making it worse.

We hope you found this guide helpful.

Laura Simmons
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