Stretching Safely: A Personal Perspective

Nov 25, 2010
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I would like to begin this blog by saying that I believe everyone can exercise, but exercise must be done in a safe manner to avoid injury.  The best way to do this is to listen to your body and if you feel that something is wrong, whether something is hurting or just does not  feel right, just back out of the exercise. Don’t try to go beyond pain and  if you have a question about a exercise or if you should be participating in exercise program, never hesitate to ask a fitness or medical professional.

There is a definite difference between pain and a good stretch.  I know and understand how that difference feels in my body.  When something is painful I immediately back off  the stretch or exercise. It is almost an innate reaction to back out of the exercise when it becomes painful. As opposed to a  good stretch, where your muscles are obviously  working and there is some tension. In this situation, the tension will feel good and should not be accompanied by a sharp  pain.  Always honor your personal limits when you stretch. Personally, I have had experiences when I have pushed too hard in a stretch or exercise and have experienced pain the next day.  Trust me, pain or injury is not worth that extra centimeter in a stretch.

Most of my experiences exercising over the past 7 years has been doing yoga. Presently,  I am enrolled in a yoga teacher training. One of the most important things we are learning in this training is the importance of adapting exercises for all types of bodies. In yoga, and in any other exercise for that matter, it is okay to do a less intense version of an exercise if it is more beneficial to your body. For example, you may not be able to reach the floor in a forward fold, but may be able to get a good stretch with your hand raised up on blocks. This may be the most beneficial stretch for someone with tight hamstring; if you try to force your hands to the floor, you may be putting too much pressure on your lower back.

I used to be the type of person that would want to do an exercise exactly like others.  It is okay to push yourself to get better.  It is important to have that internal drive to improve, but it is also important to honor your own body and adapt to its needs, so that you are able to get the maximum benefit out of exercise while remaining safe.

Author: Ryan