Three stretches you should never do — and what to do in­stead.

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Dis­cover three stretches you should never do — and their bet­ter-body re­pla­cents.

t some point, a lit­tle train­ing snob­bery is OK, es­pe­cially when the risk out­weighs the re­ward. Stretch­ing on the whole is a safe prac­tice, but not every stretch is good for every body, and un­less you’re a con­tor­tion­ist, pro ath­lete or sea­soned yogi, there’s no need to as­sem­ble your parts into a po­ten­tially com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tion. Here are the top three stretches you should avoid and why — and a re­place­ment move that is safer and bet­ter for your bod.

1. Hur­dler’s Stretch This stretch is (ob­vi­ously) good for hur­dlers, but jump­ing over a hur­dle is truly the only real-life ac­tiv­ity that ben­e­fits from this po­si­tion. Its pur­pose is to stretch your hips and deeper hip ro­ta­tors, but when most peo­ple at­tempt it, they usu­ally end up putting the in­ner por­tion of their knees un­der stress — risk­ing po­ten­tial lig­a­ment and joint cap­sule in­jury — rather than stretch­ing their hips.

Sub In: 90/90 HIP STRETCH

Hav­ing both knees at a 90-degree an­gle means that this stretch prop­erly tar­gets your hips and re­duces the pres­sure on your knees. Hold each po­si­tion of this stretch for 30 to 60 sec­onds to hit all as­pects of your hip ro­ta­tors. Re­peat two to four times each side.

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat, then turn to the side and let your knees fall to the floor. Your front thigh should be straight out in front of you and your op­po­site thigh straight out to the side — both knees bent 90 de­grees. Hold here and press your pelvis down­ward. Then hinge for­ward at the hip with a straight back and drop your chest to­ward the for­ward knee. Sit back up and ro­tate to­ward your back leg.

2. Plow Though it might not bother sea­soned yo­gis, Plow Pose re­quires ex­ten­sive flex­i­bil­ity in your ham­strings, back and neck — places that many peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence tight­ness and even pain. Fold­ing your­self in half also re­quires that the bulk of your body­weight be sup­ported by your neck and shoul­ders, pos­si­bly press­ing on the del­i­cate disks and nerve bun­dles in your cer­vi­cal spine.


This stretch achieves that same pos­te­rior-chain length­en­ing by en­list­ing the help of grav­ity — with­out bending into a pret­zel or tweak­ing your spine.

Stand with your feet to­gether, knees straight but not hy­per­ex­tended. Start­ing with your head, slowly roll down one ver­te­bra at a time un­til you’re hang­ing up­side down with your head to­ward the floor. Place your hands on the floor or fold your arms over your chest and hold for 60 sec­onds or longer. For a deeper stretch, wrap your arms around the backs of your knees, or walk your hands backward be­tween your feet.

3. Straight-Arm Chest Stretch It’s com­mon in our tech-filled world to have tight pecs, but this par­tic­u­lar stretch can ac­tu­ally shorten rather than lengthen th­ese mus­cles. Ad­di­tion­ally, lean­ing for­ward into the stretch pulls on the con­nec­tive tis­sues that hold your shoul­der in place, weak­en­ing the an­te­rior cap­sule and com­pro­mis­ing its in­tegrity — with­out stretch­ing a sin­gle fiber of the pec­torals.


This po­si­tion prop­erly stretches the pecs so they can per­form all their re­quired ac­tions: hor­i­zon­tal ab­duc­tion, ex­ter­nal ro­ta­tion and scapu­lar re­trac­tion.

Bend your arm at a 90-degree an­gle as if you were giv­ing a high-five, then place your el­bow and fore­arm against a sta­tion­ary ob­ject like a rig post or door jamb. Slowly ro­tate your en­tire body away from your arm un­til you feel a stretch in your chest — it won’t take much. As your mus­cles re­lax, turn a lit­tle far­ther. Hold for 30 sec­onds each side.

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