Top 10 Stretching Mistakes (Part 2)

In Part 2 of this series on stretching mistakes, we're going to discuss 5 more errors many people make when stretching that can cause more harm than good. So take a few deep breaths, limber up with a few arm and leg swings, and let’s jump right in! 

Ben Greenfield
5-minute read
Episode #164

Mistake #8: Stretching the Back

The one muscle group that tends to get stretched too often is your back. Whether it’s reaching for your toes, doing back bridges, or bending side-to-side, the fact is that you actually don’t need to stretch your back quite as much as you think.

You see, back pain or a lack of mobility in the back is not due to poor flexibility. It’s due to poor flexibility and poor mobility in your pelvic muscles – which limits the range of motion of your hips and makes your back have to overwork – resulting in back injury.

So how do you increase mobility in your hips? Some of the best moves involve lunging, squatting, stepping side to side, and doing hip opener exercises such as clamshells and bird-dogs (don’t you love the names?). The Foundation book I mentioned in Part 1 of this series is also great for teaching you how to have proper pelvic alignment, which can save your back.

Mistake #9: Not Stretching the Feet

In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned that I keep a golf ball under my desk to roll out any knots in my feet. I also frequently reach down and stretch each of my toes individually, stand with my feet pressed against the wall in a calf and foot stretch, stand on one leg when I'm dong exercises at the gym like an overhead press, and do lots of ankle circles while I’m doing things like brushing my teeth.

See also: How to Get Stronger Feet


All of these activities keep my feet nice and stretchy, which is crucial for the health and mobility of my knees, my hips, my back, and even my shoulders! So no matter how much you stretch or how good your stretch program is, be sure not to neglect your feet. And for crying out loud, be careful with things like high heels, cowboy boots, and tight fitting shoes – all of which can vastly reduce the flexibility and mobility of your feet.

Mistake #10: Stretching Too Simply

Because your muscles eventually adapt to the demands you place upon them, you need to constantly change your workout and fitness routine if you want to become more fit. Stretching is no different – you should always be moving your body in different ways and learning new stretches or new mobility moves that can challenge you.

Some of my favorite resources for learning new stretches include the book Becoming a Supple Leopard, visiting yoga classes at gyms, and trying to make sure it’s not the same teacher every time, trying out different yoga or Tai Chi DVDs, and even trying a variety of phone apps that teach new yoga moves, such as Mind Body Yoga, YOGAmazing, and Office Yoga.

There’s all sorts of new stretch moves that go way above and beyond toe-touching, and this will keep both your body and mind guessing.

Congratulations! You now know everything you need to know about common stretching mistakes! If you have more questions about the 10 stretching mistakes we've discussed over the past two episodes, or you have your own ideas to add, then post them in Comments below or at Facebook.com/GetFitGuy.

Feet stretch image courtesy of Shutterstock.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.