The Truth Behind the 10 Biggest Stretching Myths

The Truth Behind the 10 Biggest Stretching Myths


Stretching is an important part of any exercise routine. It helps improve flexibility, range of motion, and can even aid in injury prevention. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about stretching that lead people to stretch incorrectly or avoid it altogether.

Myth 1: Stretching Before Exercise Prevents Injury

While it’s important to warm up muscles before exercise, stretching alone is not an effective way to prevent injury. Gentle dynamic stretches that mimic exercise motions are better. Save static stretches for after your workout when muscles are warmer.

Myth 2: Stretching Requires Pain to Be Effective

Stretching should not be painful. If a stretch hurts, you’ve gone too far. Pain is the body’s way of signaling injury. Stretch only until you feel mild tension then hold the position. Forcing flexibility too quickly often leads to strains.

Myth 3: Everyone Should Be Able to Do the Splits

How flexible you can become is largely determined by genetics. While some can achieve advanced flexibility like splits, not everyone has the capacity. Flexibility varies greatly between individuals and attempting splits or other extreme ranges of motion can risk injury.

Myth 4: Stretching Makes You Weaker

Moderate stretching does not make muscles weaker or less powerful. In fact, improved flexibility allows greater freedom of movement which translates to more strength through a fuller range of motion. Overstretching can fatigue muscles so find the right balance for your goals.

Myth 5: Hold Stretches For 60 Seconds

The optimal stretch duration is 20-30 seconds. Stretching for 60 seconds or more strains muscle fibers leading to micro tears that increase injury risk. Stretch gently then relax before repeating for cumulative flexibility gains without damage from overstretching.


What is the best time to stretch?

The ideal time to stretch is after exercise when muscles are warm. Post-workout stretching helps remove lactic acid, enhance recovery, and improve flexibility gains from the activity.

Does stretching make you taller?

Stretching exercises like hanging from a bar or using an inversion table may provide temporary height gains but do not permanently make you taller. These methods decompress the spine but height returns to normal when done.

Can you overstretch?

Yes, overstretching muscles by forcing flexibility too far or holding for too long can cause small tears leading to strains, soreness, and injury. Stretch gently only until mild tension then back off and relax the muscle.

Is it bad to crack your back?

Occasional cracking from twisting or stretching probably won’t harm your back. However, repeatedly cracking in the same area of the spine could indicate instability from injury or arthritis. See a doctor if cracking is painful or becomes frequent.

How often should you stretch?

Most experts recommend stretching at least 2-3 days per week. Daily stretching is ideal, especially after exercise. Stretch major muscle groups focusing on areas prone to tightness based on your workouts and lifestyle activities.