Can You Be Too Flexible
By Dr Carla Cupido • September 13th, 2009 • 15410 Views
Stretching has always been a controversial topic in the sports medical community and now more than ever with activities such as yoga being so popular. There are so many questions about stretching, let us tackle a few of them.
1. Why stretch?
2. Does stretching prevent injuries?
3. Does stretching increase the risk of injuries?
4. When is it best to stretch: before or after exercise?
5. Does stretching damage muscle tissue?
6. Does stretching decrease a muscle’s power output?
7. What type of stretching is best pre-performance for athletes?
8. How long should stretches be held?
9. Can you be too flexible?
1. Why stretch?
Stretching should be done with the correct intent for your sport or body. For example, a sprint hurdler requires a certain amount of flexibility to adequately clear their leg over the hurdle (both lead and trail legs) without straining a muscle or kicking down the obstacle. However, if the hurdler is too flexible, power is lost from the muscle and they will therefore be slower (we will talk more about this shortly). Therefore, in this athlete’s case, they need to stretch to the appropriate amount to win the race.
If you are not a competitive athlete and just want to be able to tie your shoes up when you are eighty, stretching makes sense. Nevertheless, just as too much flexibility for the hurdler can be a problem, the senior can develop a tendinous, ligamentous or joint injuries due to excessive muscle laxity.
The take home point is that whether you are an athlete or a poker player, stretching should be a part of your life, but within the balance of your life. Therefore, think about your yoga practice and what areas you need to focus on to bring balance to your body. Perhaps some of the strengthening poses should be more of a focus for you than some of the lengthening asanas.
Balance must be found between the strength and length of a muscle. ...