Does stretching ever stop hurting?

Quite often I have clients who are new to stretching who ask me if stretching ever stops hurting. This is one of the reasons that many people simply chose not to stretch, so they can just “avoid” the pain.

Unfortunately there is no straight up yes or no answer to this question. If we compare stretching to strength training perhaps it will make more sense.

When you’re training strength, and you start a new program the next 2-3 days following the new program your muscles are going to be sore. Also, during the workout, especially if the exercises are new, it’s going to hurt a lot more during the first workout than the following workouts. Now, should you continue to do the same workout for months or years it’s not going to hurt as much when you do the workout or after, but the gains you are hoping to make strength wise are also going to become minimal to non-existent.

The same goes for stretching.

If you start a stretching program, let’s use yoga as an example, and you’ve done little to no stretching in your life, the first class is going to be tough, it’s going to hurt, and the next day or two you’re going to feel it. As you continue to go to the same class you’re going to start getting comfortable with the stretches, hopefully you’re going to start learning how to breath properly and relax into the stretches and it’s going to hurt less during and after the class. This is great for maintaining flexibility! However, if you wish to continue to make gains in your flexibility and have a greater range of motion it’s going always going to hurt.

So the answer to the question is really up to you. You need to decide based on your current flexibility level and your goals, if you’re happy with your range of motion and you’re learning to stretch so that you don’t lose any range of motion then the answer is YES, it will stop hurting. If your goals require a greater range of motion and you need to continue to improve your flexibility then the answer is NO, and if it does stop hurting then you need to change something so that you can continue to improve.

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