Unfortunately, injuries happen.
Stretching and flexibility training are actually relatively low-risk forms of exercise compared with things like team sports and running. Stretching injuries tend to primarily affect soft tissue, that is, muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia etc. So stretching injuries tend to be less severe than some sports / exercise forms that have risks that include potentially life-threatening injuries (concussions, brain injuries, spinal injuries etc).
Let me state clearly; all forms of exercise are beneficial. The best exercise for you, is the one you will do, consistently. There are risks associated with any activity. However, unlike exercise, the risks associated with inactivity are unavoidable, and the outcomes, devastating. Despite the training being low risk and the potential severity of injuries being moderate, stretching and flexibility training have a bad wrap when it comes to injury.
There is good evidence that stretching doesn't reduce the risk of injury in healthy adult athletes and that stretching before training or playing *may increase the risk of injury in running-based athletes. Thus, it seems that the average person shouldn't stretch to reduce their risk of injury prior to sport. However, stretching will be helpful for athletes who require a greater than average range to participate in their chosen activity. Therefore, it also seems reasonable that, for these people, stretching should reduce their risk of injury.
So don't avoid stretching or flexibility training due to the risk of injury.
*NB: These studies tend to define stretching as sustained holds or passive stretches, which is not the only way to stretch and doesn't reflect the usual practice of flexibility training.
Take a look at Factors Increasing Risk Training Flexibility to learn:
- When flexibility related training injuries usually occur, &
- Key signs not to ignore when training flexibility.
You may also like to learn about the link between Pain and Stretching:
To see a physio with experience managing flexibility related injuries: