Stretching The Right Thing
In stretching classes, we primarily stretch our muscles. Period. Not our bones, not other connective tissues (like ligaments and tendons). So when you stretch, see if you can identify where the stretch sensation is - is it still in your muscles, or did it travel somewhere it wasn’t supposed to?
Having sharp, intense pain is usually an indication that you’ve taken the stretch somewhere it was not supposed to go. Feeling bones grinding against one another is another indication that you are not stretching what you are supposed to be stretching.
In the beginning, it is very normal to not have any idea whether the stretch is in your muscles or somewhere else.
Our advice is to slow down, pick a muscle or muscle group you want to focus on, and perform simple stretches targeted towards that muscle/muscle group until you learn to recognize what that stretch should feel like.
Here are a couple of other tips:
Focus on having the sensation in the "belly" of the muscle (the thickest part). Not sure where the belly is? Ask your FLEXSPACE instructor - or Google the muscle and find the middle/thickest part!
Become super mindful with your movement. Close your eyes, visualize what the muscle looks like and what it is doing right now (lengthening!). Send all of your energy there. Connect with your sensations and listen to what your body is telling you.
Once you master the simple stretches, you will feel more comfortable combining stretches into sequences and making them more dynamic. When those stretches become more complex or you start moving through them quicker, you WILL know the moment a stretch does not feel the same as it did in those simple movements. You will be alert to sensations that just “don’t feel right”.
And you are the best judge of that! Nobody knows what it feels like to live in your body - not your stretching instructor, not that yoga teacher on YouTube, not your bootcamp coach. Listen to yourself first, and if something doesn’t feel right, stop doing it and start asking questions.
What other tips do you have for stretching the right thing?