Can You Stretch Too Much?

You've seen advice all over the internet, including here on this channel, you should stretch after you run. But can you stretch too much?
Can You Stretch Too Much?

You've seen advice all over the internet, including here on this channel, you should stretch after you run. But can you stretch too much?

The short answer is yes, absolutely, you can stretch too much. If that's all you need, you just need a yes or no, hit that subscribe button and get the heck out of here. If you want to know why you can stretch too much, then stick with me. Let me give you some of the details. So, the point of stretching is largely to increase our range of motion and the elasticity of our muscles.

You may have heard me say, you may have heard other people say that a stretching muscle is a strong muscle or a powerful muscle, which is true. But becoming more elastic and increasing that range of motion is only good to a point. You have to remember that your muscles are actually part of the chain. They're not just a thing that works on their own. They're working with your tendons and your ligaments and your bones and well, other parts of you, your other muscles to move you forward or to move an object or whatever it is that you're actually doing.

So, it's not just as simple as saying, just stretch the muscle, there are other things that are moving around as well. If you want to know more about the interaction between muscles, tendons, and ligaments, don't get it from me. Get it from my interview with somebody much smarter than me that actually studies these kind of things in an academic environment, Dr. Keith Bar, I believe it’s Episode 30. But on the smart athlete podcast, I interview Dr. Bar about his research into exercise physiology, including his research into the interactions of tendons, muscles, and ligaments and how they work together.

So, after you're done here, go over the channel. Go find that Dr. Keith Bar, that’s an excellent opportunity to really educate yourself on what's going on with your body as well as all the things he can share with you about how to become a better athlete, or at least the best athlete that you can be. But back to stretching our muscles. It can actually become a problem when you stretch too much. And the issue is that think about this is the best way it's been explained to me. So, I'll explain it to you the same way.

So, our muscles are kind of like this, our interlock fingers. And so when you're stretching them, we're pulling the fibers apart, and then they contract back together. The idea is that they're able to move in this interaction easier when we stretch and farther. The farther you can move them, the more they can contract, the more power they can produce. However, when you stretch too much, those fibers can get pulled apart and then be unable to contract back together.

This is what happens basically, when you strain or sprain your muscles. And it's a sense that you're pulling those fibers apart, and now they're injured to the point that they cannot contract back any farther.

That’s why you can't just stretch all the way to full range of motion if you've been injured or kind of out of commission for a while. If you've watched the Smart Athlete Podcast, I mentioned this before, but I broke my collarbone a couple seasons ago, and had to have my arm in a sling.

Well, I didn't have a full range of motion straight out the bat, I had to do exercises and work on it and it was several weeks to several months, before I got back to having full range of motion. It is a progress over time, not as simple. Well, no I'm going to have full range of motions.

So, this is also why if you sprain or strain that muscle, stretching is counterproductive because it is already pulled apart. And you're stretching it which is further keeping it in this kind of scenario, instead of allowing it to heal back together and then beginning again with that stretching sequence to try to elongate things over time. So, like I said, yes, absolutely you can stretch too much. If that's all you needed, I’m glad you stuck with me this far through the video.

But don't go anywhere too fast. Like I said, please go check out that interview with Dr. Keith Barr on the Smart Athlete Podcast, it’s well well worth your time. He has more to share with you than just the interaction between muscles, tendons, and ligaments, but I don't want to spoil all the awesome information he had to share with me when he spent a little bit of time with me. So, I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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