Why would you stretch past the point of where you can control? Many times these flexibility/strength windows are so big it contributes to injury. It is not uncommon to slip and be flexible enough to fall into a certain position but not strong enough to hold it, so you tear some soft tissue. The next time you stretch try powering your limb/joint into the stretch position using only the strength of the opposing muscle. Hold it there for a prescribed amount of time and then attempt to bring it a little farther into the range of motion. You may find it useful to have a friend or trainer act as a barrier that holds your position. Do not have the person "push" you into a range of motion you can't control.
If you are going to stretch here are some rules
A big bugaboo of mine is watching people stretch all their muscles, including the loose ones. Think of your body like a out of tune guitar. When you tune an instrument, would you stretch all the strings the same, or just the out of tune ones? Stretch all the joints and muscles the same and you'll be a looser and more unstable version of your asymmetrical self. If you insist on a flexibility program find out what is tight and why and then stretch only those muscles that need improved range of motion.
The one uncontroversial truth about stretching is that it does increase flexibility...albeit after a long and dedicated effort. Now you are more flexible so you can show off in yoga class, join the circus or be better at doing splits. Simply participating in a smart exercise program will actively move all your joints thorough their normal safe range of motion; this may be enough. Ask yourself and search your soul, is independent flexibility training worth the gym time even though most of its benefits are unconvincing?
Full DisclosureBefore you discredit this whole article because you think I have a confirmation bias about stretching please know I used to be a huge advocate of flexibility training. If truth be told, I taught other trainers about its efficacy and how to properly integrate it into one's routine - and many of them are still doing it today. The fact of the matter is that the damned science caught up and got in the way which pushed me to reevaluate my flexibility protocols. That being said, sometimes I do stretch because it feels good, maybe I'm just a masochist?
1. Mel Siff, Facts and Fallacies of Fitness, Denver, M. Siff, pp 121-122; 2002.
2. NYTimes: Right reasons to Stretch
3. NY Times: To Stretch or Not to Stretch
4. Shrier. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. 1999. This paper and Herbert are literature reviews: contradictions in existing research, and conclude that there is no convincing evidence that stretching is useful
5. British Journal Of Sports Med: Stretching Before Exercise
6. PT Journal: Stretching Does Not Increase Muscle Length
7. C. O'Connor : Muscle Activation Techniques
Doug Joachim - NYC www.JoachimsTraining.com