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I attend regular martial arts classes (about 3-4 a week). We spend a lot of time stretching, particularly the hip area and the legs, to increase flexibility.

Often after some classes where we do a lot of stretching, I find that the muscles/other soft tissues I don't know the name of/tendons I stretched are pretty sore.

Is this a normal reaction to increasing flexibility? Should I view the soreness as evidence I'm becoming more flexible, or should I ease up a bit?

EDIT: The general location of the soreness is the hip, psoas area (I'll try to roust up a picture later). It usually fades after a couple days, some ice/heat application speeds recovery. I have as yet not noticed any marked improvement in flexibility.

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Could you post an image (not necessarily from yourself) to 'show' us where it hurts? Also how long does it stay sore after your classes and do you experience any improvement in your flexibility? –  Ivo Flipse Apr 6 '11 at 22:49
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The basis of any exercise for muscle strengthening is a stretch and a contraction. The type of aggressive stretching you are doing is actually similar to a strengthening exercise, and soreness is to be expected. You're actually tearing your muscle fibers to create that soreness and your body will repair the muscle afterward making it stronger, but that is the natural process of increasing strength.

If the soreness has not alleviated by the time you are attending the next class, I would ease up on the stretching. You don't want to tear your muscle fibers stretching, and repeat that activity before your body has the opportunity to repair it. That could easily develop into an injury.

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How long on average should it take before you start to see improvement? –  morganpdx Apr 7 '11 at 17:05
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