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The 3 Major Stretching Mistakes You're Making Without Knowing It

A trainer weighs in on these errors and how to correct them.

In order for your muscles to stay healthy, flexible, and strong, you need to stretch. According to Harvard Health, flexibility is crucial for your joints to keep up a good range of motion. David Nolan, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital tells Harvard Health that stretching should be part of your daily routine. And if you have a stretching regimen down pat, there may be some major stretching mistakes you're making without even knowing it. But don't fret, because we're here to clue you in on these errors.

We spoke with Carla Baccio, a personal trainer on Fyt, the nation's largest personal training service that makes fitness under the expert guidance of an in-person (or virtual), certified fitness professional convenient and accessible for anyone, to get the scoop on the stretching mistakes you're making. Baccio highlights three very common errors and how you can correct them ASAP.

Read on to learn more about these stretching mistakes, and next, be sure to check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

Over-extending your back

woman doing cobra pose on mat

Baccio explains, "Many yoga poses aren't suitable for everyone, and people tend to stretch more than they should just because they notice other people doing it. But it could be that others are naturally more flexible. The back is a vulnerable place that requires personalized attention—flexibility (how far you can go) and mobility (how well you can move) [vary] from person to person and [are] defined by genetics and lifestyle." Baccio recommends being cautious when doing yoga poses such as cobra.

Related: One Secret Side Effect of Stretching More, Says Doctor

Stretching beyond comfort

female runner in workout attire stretching legs

Many individuals may believe getting a good stretch in should be painful, but Baccio says that's not the case at all. "I always tell my clients that breathing is the most important part of stretching. I advise my clients to take deep breaths while stretching (inhale for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds). If you're finding it difficult to breathe while stretching, it'll be difficult to relax, which will take away the benefits of stretching," Bacci notes. Your body can successfully stretch and elongate the muscles through proper breathwork.

Not stretching at all


Baccio stresses that a little bit of stretching is better than not stretching at all. "For the warm-up phase of a workout, I always suggest that my clients foam roll and do a dynamic warm-up that includes some stretching for the major joints (shoulders, hips, ankles, and spine). As part of the cool-down phase of the workout, I recommend relaxing and holding stretches for about 15 to 30 seconds each along with deep breathing (5-second inhale, 5-second exhale). This is when the body is warm enough to be able to reach more flexibility, plus, it feels really good," Baccio says.

Related: What a Daily Stretching Habit Does to Your Body After 60, Say Experts

For more…

Mature fit people biking in the gym, exercising legs doing cardio workout cycling bikes

For more fitness inspiration, check out The 3 Muscles You Didn't Know You Should Work Out, Trainer Says and The Best Cardio Exercises To Get A Lean Body Fast—Without Equipment.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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