Improving Flexibility: Good Pain vs. Bad Pain

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Improving your flexibility is very much a journey of self discovery. You’ll experience many different sensations throughout your body, including pain. Other than medical professionals, no one can really tell you if what you’re feeling is good pain or bad pain; that’s something you have to learn on your own.

Stretching exercises can hurt; there’s no question about that. You’ll feel many different sensations and there is no ‘right way’ to feel the changes happening in your body. Many different factors come into play:



  • Are you properly warmed up?

  • Have there been changes in the weather?

  • If you’re a woman, what time of the month is it?

  • Are you stretching fascia or muscle?

 

All of these factors can affect how your body feels during a stretching workout.

Beginner Pain

If you’re new to stretching, you should start gently. If you go too fast and you haven’t learned how to relax and breathe properly, you could injure yourself. Also keep in mind that it will take some time to get used to the sensations you’ll feel as you open your joints and lengthen your muscles.

Don’t be scared! As a beginner, you can enjoy greater success in your flexibility exercises by remembering a few key points:

  • Listen to your body

  • Understand that you’ll have to endure some unusual sensations in order to see results

  • Don’t hold back

  • Proceed with caution

Advanced Pain

Oddly enough, I find that many of my advanced clients, such as those who grew up playing sports, struggle the most with knowing the difference between good pain and bad pain. They’ve been raised on the ‘no pain, no gain’ saying, which is true in a way, but only in reference to good pain.

These clients often encounter overuse injuries and problems with over-stretching. This is usually the result of not taking adequate time to allow muscles to recover, or doing a flexibility session before strength training. The latter is not advisable because your muscles don’t respond the same way to strength training after you stretch as they do before.

Can Stretching Exercises Relieve Pain?

Most injuries cannot be stretched better. The only case where stretching can help an injury is when a short muscle is pulling on something, such as in cases of lower back pain. In this scenario, the glutes and hip flexors are both tight, which causes a tug-of-war on the lower back. By carefully stretching through this pain, you can find relief by lengthening the tight muscles.

The Most Important Thing To Remember While Improving Flexibility

Listen to your body! Some days will hurt more than others, and some days you won’t go as far, but as long as you listen to your body and give it adequate time to recover between workouts, you’ll start to notice the difference between good pain and bad pain.

Stay in the ‘good pain’ zone!

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