Yes, there is such thing as over stretching. Stretching out muscles after workouts is a great thing for your muscles but overstretching does fall into that category of “too much of a good thing.”
Here are some signs that will let you know that you are overstretching:
-Feeling a burning sensation while you are stretching
-Feeling the muscle tearing while you are stretching rather than a slight pull
-Over bearing or shooting pain occurs while stretching
-Hearing a “pop” sound while you are stretching
-Swelling in the muscle after you have stretched it
-A sudden decrease in athletic output/performance
To avoid over stretching here are some pointers that will allow you to remain flexible without hurting yourself:
1. Always stretch warm muscles. Muscles are flexible and ready for stretching when the body temperature rises. Cold stretching can lead to injuries. You can warm up your muscles by doing some light jogging for 5 minutes, running in place or jump roping.
2. When you hold a stretch, make sure that you do it for no more than 30 seconds. Stretching for more than 30 seconds will lead to over stretching but 10-30 second range will be just enough stretching to do the job effectively.
3. Avoid bouncing while stretching (especially with hamstring muscles). When you have stretched to your maximum capacity, hold the stretch and come out of the stretch slowly. When the muscle stretches in a way that it is not ready to go, that often leads to injuries eg: Olympic sprinters who pull hamstrings because they over reach on their stride while running.
4. Stretch within your comfort zone. Do not put any pressure on yourself to “touch your toes”, or “bring your foot to your head.” Stretching is something that requires a touch and feel approach. Stretch to your comfort zone, and never over reach your boundaries. Stretching should be one of the most relaxing parts of your day. Breathe deeply, take your time and stay within your personal zone to ensure stretching success.