I am an avid stretcher, I guess that is why I also practice yoga. I love stretching, whether it be first thing in the morning, while I am cooking, along with my my yoga students while I’m teaching, waiting in line at the grocery store or even while reading.   There just always seems to be something that needs to be adjusted in my body and sometimes a really good stretch does the trick.  My study and practice of Yoga Tune Up® has made finding the balance of stretching and strengthening much more ingrained in me. However, I am still stubborn.

asa stretching

There is such a thing as too much stretching. photo by: Minoru Nitta from wylio.com.

I continue to work on an imbalance between my left and right torso that is affecting everything from my glutes, to my lower back, even into my obliques and psoas.  This might be a common theme for you, you continuously stretch and stretch the tight side; this is the one that is giving you some nagging pain, but completely forget or choose to avoid the other side, the one that is weak or has poor tone.  You may even come to a point that you get relief from stretching the hypertonic side and may even over do it without realizing the harm that you are causing.  So, in this scenario, you continue to overstretch one side of the body that you feel is still tight, and then avoid the weak side of the body, the one that needs more strengthening.

Yoga Tune Up® offers the best of both worlds and in my opinion is a great way of incorporating the strengthening aspects into a yoga practice and hopefully into your everyday life.  Understanding what a stretch is doing and what it should and should not feel like is key as well as understanding when you should be stretching and when you need to be strengthening.

When stretching, there are a range of sensations that  can occur.  In the area that is being stretched, generally, a nice, warming feeling should be felt.   This can usually be felt around either the origin or insertion of the muscle.  If you move too deeply, a burning or stinging-like sensation, almost like pins and needles, may be felt, and if you really overdo it, a feeling of sharp pain should cause you to recoil.  When you get to point where you are feeling that burning sensation and not warming, it should be a sign that you need to back off a bit or just discontinue stretching.  Generally after a session of stretching, you should not feel too sore, but if you do the following day, it can be an indication that some tissue damage may have occurred and it will be important to give it some time to heal.

So, a lot of the principles around what should be felt when stretching also apply when performing any yoga asanas as well as when using the Yoga Tune Up®  Therapy Balls. When applying some amount of pressure with the YTU balls on a muscle, you are stretching that muscle. Understanding what range of sensation you feel when moving will ensure that you get the good stretch you need.

Check out our solutions for Tight hamstrings or IT Bands.

Learn about our Therapy Ball Programs.

Read our “Stretch anytime, anywhere.” article.

Tia Ukpe

Tia Ukpe has been a devoted student of yoga since 2001. She has focused on practicing and teaching Ashtanga Vinyasa. She received her 200 hour teacher certification from IT's Yoga in 2007. Tia is also a Relax and Renew Restorative Yoga teacher and is certified to teach Yoga Tune Up®, an integrative form of yoga therapy created by Jill Miller. Tia is currently working towards her Master’s in Holistic Nutrition, has received her initial certification from Saul David Raye in Thai Yoga Therapy and continues to look for new ways that she can integrate holistic living in all aspects of life. For more about me or to view my Yoga Tune Up® class schedule go here. You can also visit my website at www.tiawellness.com.

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Carolyn

Stretching and strengthening are two sides of the same coin. When we practice or move through life with conscious awareness, we begin to notice when there’s an imbalance. Knowing what to do about it is super important. Thanks for the post!

Simona

Thank you Tia. Great post, which is right to the point. Finding the line of what is a good stretch to what is to far is a balancing act I find. Usually the flexible people like to stretch and the less flexible don’t. YTU provides the right thing for everyone. For the less flexible I find the YTU balls are perfect because they can access a muscle/area by rolling it first (making it softer and flushed with blood) before stretching it. For the flexible people I find the strengthening poses of YTU great. The help to stabilise and build up… Read more »

Kerstin

Such a great point: YTU helps us understand that our bodies are a combination pack of tight and loose, short and stretched, healthy and stagnant tissues. And it’s never just one of those things, and none of the others. It’s so important to recognize that imbalance is generally “imperfections” on both sides of the body, and generally, the opposite of whatever is causing the recognized issue we’re trying so hard to fix by stretching more, or lifting more, or moving more on the one side. YTU brings an absolutely crucial awareness to the reality that strength and flexibility are equally… Read more »

Nicole Garratt

This is a really great explanation for determining stretch limits. Sometimes it’s hard to find the line in which a stretch goes from good to shouldn’t have gone there! This also helps to break down the idea of finding strength in other needed places to help soothe the areas we think need stretch. Creating balance!!

Emily Pantalone

Thank you for this much needed article! As someone who spent years as a dancer overstretching my muscles and tendons, I find this post so meaningful. Just like salad is good for you but all salad all the time is not, stretching can be wonderful for your health if done consciously and moderately. I don’t think we educate our students enough on what the sensation of stretching should be in the body. We need to empower our students to figure out when stretching feels good and when it doesn’t in the body.

natalie JP

I struggle with when to stretch, before a workout? after? It is important to increase mobility before a workout, but is it possible to be too stretchy? is increased chance of injury at risk?

Overstretching Can Affect Athletic Performance | Yoga Tune Up

[…] To Stretch Or Not To Stretch, That is the Question… Stretch And Strengthen […]

Emma

Reading this article was very informative and very relevate to my practice. I am one of those wonderful people that is consstently stretching my “tight” side and neglecting my more open side. Since beinging Yoga Tune Up this fact has become glaringly obvious, and it was very reassuring to hear that I am not alone! thanks!

Linh Taylor

As a yoga instructor, I often stretch and demo only on one side as I teach. This is such a bad habit. I completely agree with that strengthening is as important as stretching. One can’t not stabilize the body without the other. A good practice should include both.

Rachel

I completely understand and have been guilty of stretching only the tight side of my body, but I feel that we even carry and create these similar imbalances when working on strength. I very often remind myself that the side I don’t want to do (or I am not called to do) is the side that I need to focus on.

Kevyn

This definitely hits my bad habit of only focusing on the side that feels tight or is hurting. I constantly have to remind myself to not just do one side! Glad to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this!

Genevieve

Thank you Tia! The debate goes on between “pain” and “sensation”. I think that as with everything, the key is balance. I had always felt a bit intimidated attending yoga classes filled with extremely flexible types, (i have an athletic build) until I realized that being too flexible can also be detrimental to certain activities. Someone today used the word “humbled”, as in, he was humbled by others ablities, rather than intimidated. Humility opens the mind to learning and growing.

Matthew Coe

Really like the solid reminders in your post…strive to balance sides, balance the body out, in both flexibility and strength. Stretching or strength training should not be mutually exclusive practices, bodies need both to find a toned and healthy homeostatic existence. With the propagation of aesthetically wonderful “bendy” yoga-body images, we can be deceived to thinking more stretching is better. But all bodies are different, some (if not most) should not/cannot achieve these “picture perfect” poses. And Tathaastu’s first comment is spot on, we can use our breathing to help bring us to a more fully present state of awareness,… Read more »

Kelsi

Thanks for the post. I have really been trying to focus on the balance between strengthening and stretching lately. I just finished my first TT where I was feeling bit sore from the constant stretching and sitting. Noticing how sore I was, and possibly over stretched, I have been really trying to focus on strength. It is important in all forms of stretching, including yoga, to keep in mind that as you are trying to get deeper into a pose, it is equally important to be strengthening… even if that means you don’t go as far into the pose as… Read more »

Patricia

Wow what a great article. I am always trying to fix my uneveness as well. I never knew that and I have felt the “pins” when stretching as well. I will be more conscience after reading this article. thank you Tia. Your amazing.

Emma Fraijo

I appreciate the reminder to remain very aware of the types of sensation that can occur when we are using the YTU balls. After completing the 4-day training and having plenty of opportunities to roll-out on the balls, I definitely experienced a full-range of warm to medium and intense pain. With that said, I agree that mindful use of the YTU balls and an understanding of positive/beneficial sensations can help yogis use the balls to their full-potential and refine the quality of our asana practices.

Diana

Because I have an ectomorphic body structure (less muscle mass than most people), I find stretching incredibly easy and delicious, therefore tend to overemphasize the stretching poses in my practice, at the expense of core development. The YTU balls, however, have helped me ID areas where I lack the flex and stretch I thought I had. In addition to using YTU balls to help me open these closed areas, I will need to work with how I can use them to help me strengthen my entire body. I got a taste of this in my first YTU Integrated Anatomy weekend,… Read more »

Nadine

Many thanks for this article. I tend to overstretch sometimes, too. Especially the description of how a “healthy stretch” should feel and what it should not feel like is very helpful. In future, I will pay special attention to this.

Sherry Matwe

I couldn’t agree more with the author and the comments. YTU opened my eyes to the benefits and mindlessness of strech. I was amazed by addeding PNF’s and DOM’s made my practise more flexible and was able to dip into poses I never thought possible.

george hirsch

this blog is a good one. too often i focus on the inflexible side of the two and how to create more ROM in that one side. but up until now i have never thought about why the one side isnt as flexible as the other. there must be some type of imbalance that needs the attention of the mind, and stetching isnt always the answer.

Luisa

The great thing about Yoga Tune Up therapy balls is that it not only challenges the old credo that the best way to fix a muscular problem is to strength but it proves it wrong with results.Yoga Tune Up balls rock our world.

Bridget Ingham

My left shoulder was injured years ago and bothers me sometimes. Even though I was doing strengthening exercises I was always trying to relieve it with stretching(overstretching) it and weakening it. When I would massage the right shoulder with the YTU balls it was almost un-penetratable like concrete because it was the really tight side that needed to be stretched, My left shoulder issues resided almost immediately. WHO KNEW??? YTU balls to the rescue.

Brigitta Dau

This is a good reminder for me! My shoulders a very tight and I have become very disciplined about stretching and increasing range of motion thanks to YTU. But, I’ve been a little lazy about strengthening the weaker parts. I’m fairly strong and just always think I need to stretch more…But just stretching without strengthening is futile in the end…without the strength to “keep” the new opening we’ve created in our joints and muscles, our bodies will just fall right back to old patterns…

Tathaastu

I would like to add a very important point here!! One should have thorough knowledge of the Pranayama and asanas before attempting it. It is always advisable to learn personally from a knowledgeable instructor.