Flexibility 101

Bill McDonald June 29, 2011 26
Flexibility 101

Let’s begin with a water balloon analogy. Although a balloon is designed to hold a significant amount of air, it is extremely difficult for most people to blow one up straight out of the bag. The most successful way to blow a balloon up is to stretch it out a few times. In fact, if the balloon is blown up long enough, it becomes very easy to blow it up again, once the air is let out. The integrity of the balloon is only compromised if blown up past its designed capacity. This same principle holds true for the muscles of your body. They may be capable of lifting tremendous weight (for some people more weight than others) and perform miraculous feats but they shouldn’t be expected nor forced to do so without stretching their tissue first.

Once we mature into adulthood, muscles, unlike bones are not set to a specific unalterable length. Our habitual movements mostly determine the flexibility of our muscles otherwise known as our range of motion. Unfortunately, most individuals that do stretch do so incorrectly, putting themselves at risk for more injury.

Stretching not only facilitates maximum use of your muscles in speed, power and strength but also minimizes injury and increases recovery from injury. A research study conducted by “Terar et all” at Kyoto University in Japan demonstrated that proper flexibility training allowed for movements to be made with less energy. Greater flexibility also allows for enhanced power through increased range of motion. Take this analogy; the further you stretch a rubber band, the further distance it travels due to greater potential energy being generated.

A few things to understand prior to starting a stretching program: the purpose of stretching is to stretch muscle tissue. Tendons are thick tough bands that connect muscles to bone; if you try and stretch them you can cause tearing which translates to an injury that is nearly impossible to heal because of almost non-existent blood supply. Although ligaments are much more pliable than tendons, they should not be stretched because once stretched, they lose their ability to hold bones together and that is their primary purpose. Ligaments were created to be minimally elastic and taut so they can keep bones together. Muscles are composed of bundles of muscle fibers that are held together by a thin web like material called fascia which are composed of collagen. Collagen is very inelastic like ligaments and is responsible for most of the stiffness that you experience the morning after a workout. Over time, our muscles adjust their natural resting length based upon the repetitive motion that we subject them to. If this happens to be an activity that involves constant contraction, then our natural state of rest will be somewhat contracted.

For purposes of this short article, we will cover the 3 most important considerations for stretching.

Relaxation: A muscle must be relaxed before it can be stretched. A prime example of a widely practiced stretching technique that is counterproductive for most people is a balancing stretch. Have you ever seen someone trying to do a quadriceps stretch (front/top of the leg) while standing? If the purpose of stretching is to increase the range of motion and elongate the muscle fiber, then why would it make sense to try and stretch a muscle group while it is focusing all of it’s attention on trying to stabilized the body and maintain balance? The answer is simple, “it cannot be done (unless highly trained)”. There are a very select pool of individuals that can effectively stretch while standing up and that would be athletes who have had years of sport specific training such as ballet dancers, gymnasts and yoga practitioners. Stretches should be done either on the ground or well supported.

Warm-up: Another principle to understand is that muscles need to be warmed up prior to being stretched and part of that warm up is not just warm tissue but getting the circulation active in the target tissue. Consider the difference of the elasticity of a rubber band sitting in the sun vs. the freezer. Always do a minimum of 5-10 minutes of light cardio to warm up the muscles.

Duration: Contrary to popular practice, stretching a muscle for anything less than 30-35 seconds is a waste of time. It is a popular practice for people to rush through their stretches, and stretch a muscle for 10-20 seconds. Muscles don’t stretch until they are allowed to relax; the first thirty seconds are used for relaxing.

26 Comments »

  1. Karma Tua November 29, 2011 at 9:37 PM -

    I had been honored to get a call from my friend when he found the important points shared on your own site. Going through your blog write-up is a real amazing experience. Thank you for taking into consideration readers like me, and I desire for you the best of achievements like a professional in this arena.

  2. Sherrell Cadwell December 17, 2011 at 6:22 AM -

    Wow! This can be one particular of the most useful blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Fantastic. I’m also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your effort.

  3. Demarcus Weyrauch December 24, 2011 at 8:48 PM -

    Rattling excellent visual appeal on this web site, I’d value it 10.

  4. Roscoe December 31, 2011 at 5:19 PM -

    “The three main things about your identity as a human being: you are made by God, like God, for God.” – John Piper

  5. agen bola sbobet January 11, 2012 at 9:50 PM -

    Many thanks for being my personal lecturer on this subject matter. My partner and i enjoyed your current article greatly and most of all preferred how you really handled the issues I regarded as being controversial. You happen to be always extremely kind towards readers much like me and assist me in my existence. Thank you.

  6. weekend football betting tips January 12, 2012 at 3:40 AM -

    I was reading through some of your posts on this site and I believe this website is rattling informative ! Keep posting .

  7. kasyno January 17, 2012 at 11:18 AM -

    Valuable info. Lucky me I found your website by accident, and I’m shocked why this accident didn’t happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

  8. Bill McDonald February 1, 2012 at 10:42 PM -

    Not sure what your name is but can you be more specific. I definitely want to keep my material fresh and interesting. What do you like and not like and what about it is lacking?

  9. Katheryn Babin February 8, 2012 at 7:55 AM -

    That is the type of info that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for now not positioning this higher up! Come on over and discuss with my web site. Thanks =)

  10. Greg Ealley February 11, 2012 at 3:09 PM -

    You undoubtedly put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  11. Edwardo Pamer February 15, 2012 at 6:10 PM -

    Very helpful write-up. Your view point is extremely lucid and also insightful. I’ll absolutely be following your RSS. I trust you will post often on very similar subjects. However I’m curious what your sources of the write-up are? Thanks.

  12. Louann Schaack February 16, 2012 at 5:36 AM -

    Thank you for taking the time and spreading this information with all of us. It was really very helpful and informative while being straight forward and to the point.

  13. Floyd Dunkle February 24, 2012 at 7:27 AM -

    Thank you very much for this lovely post. Great work!

  14. Aaron March 1, 2012 at 4:11 PM -

    Iunderstand what you are saying and I agree with you

  15. Thanh Seville March 1, 2012 at 11:50 PM -

    Simply wanna say that this is invaluable , Thanks for taking your time to write this.

  16. Shirley Grossklaus March 12, 2012 at 10:03 PM -

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website needs much more consideration. I’ll probably be again to read much more, thanks for that info.

  17. Cole Ginnings March 18, 2012 at 4:10 PM -

    This really answered my problem, thank you!

  18. serge bin March 21, 2012 at 5:59 PM -

    You have mentioned very interesting points! ps nice internet site.

  19. Bilety Lotnicze March 23, 2012 at 10:06 PM -

    Great article and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is really the best place to ask but do you folks have any ideea where to employ some professional writers? Thanks :)

  20. mesothelioma law March 31, 2012 at 10:57 AM -

    I just couldnt leave your website before saying that I really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors… Will be back often to check up on new stuff you post!

  21. Przecieki matura 2012 April 1, 2012 at 4:39 PM -

    Hi there very nice blog!! Man .. Excellent .. Superb .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also?I’m satisfied to seek out numerous helpful information here within the post, we need work out extra strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  22. New Warrock Cheats April 1, 2012 at 5:39 PM -

    I’ve learn several good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot effort you put to create such a magnificent informative website.

  23. fruit mocking party April 1, 2012 at 7:27 PM -

    I love what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work and exposure! Keep up the awesome works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to our blogroll.

  24. Alteriwnet Hack Undetected April 2, 2012 at 1:06 AM -

    I appreciate, lead to I discovered exactly what I was looking for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  25. Bill McDonald April 21, 2012 at 8:16 AM -

    Yes my twitter is fphiit.
    Thank you very much.

  26. Hoyt Dalee October 7, 2012 at 12:57 PM -

    Great job