Yoga Stretching feels great and increases flexibility — when done the right way. But not preparing properly or doing the stretch incorrectly can lead to injuries and inflexibility, the exact opposite of the results you want. Avoid these common mistakes for a safe, pain-free and effective stretching routine.

1. You bounce.
Bouncing at the end of your stretch (when done vigorously enough) can cause the muscle and tendon to tear, says Luga Podesta, M.D., sports medicine physician and rehabilitation specialist at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles. This “ballistic” stretching triggers a reaction within the muscle that prevents it from relaxing and ends up defeating the purpose of the action. Instead, Podesta recommends gradually elongating and holding the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds, then release and repeat several times.

2. You’re in the wrong position.
If you don’t feel the stretch where you’re expecting to feel it, you may be doing it wrong, says Phil Oliveri, a physical therapist with Rockford Spine Center in Rockford, Illinois. “Poor body positioning can cause you to miss the muscle you’re aiming to stretch. Use a free hand to feel the muscle you are stretching. It should feel tight and then loosen after the stretch.”

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