As a short 5’2″ female, height has always been improved through frequent use of high-healed shoes. My aunt recently asked, “Did you get taller?” Nope, I hadn’t, nor had I been wearing my typical stilettos. Could it have been all the stretching I’d incorporated into my workouts? Maybe….
My typical daily workout allowed for limited stretching afterward due to time constraints. Feeling sore and extreme muscle tightness the following days was usual. After reading up on the importance of stretching after working out, I found myself cutting short (if needed) in order to fit in the cool down. What an improvement I encountered!
According to the Mayo Clinic, stretching muscles improves fitness performance, decreases risk for injury, and increases blood flow. Not only is stretching important for flexibility, it promotes muscle growth.
Every muscle in your body is enclosed in a bag of tough connective tissue known as fascia. Fascia is important for holding your muscles in their proper place in your body. However, your fascia may also be holding back your muscle growth. Think for a moment about your muscle development; you train them and feed them properly. They want to grow and will grow if given the right conditions, but are you giving them the opportunity or holding them back. They have no room to grow! Fascia is so dense that it doesn’t allow the muscle enough space to expand when it is proliferating. It is like stuffing a large pillow into a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won’t change regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat because the connective tissue around your muscles is constricting the muscles within.
The solution: stretching. Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.
Be sure you do not stretch so hard that you cause the muscle to tear or cause injury to yourself. You will rapidly learn to distinguish the difference between a good stretch and a bad stretch. You should not feel any sharp pain, just a steady pull.
Hold each stretch for at least 30 to 45 seconds as you must give your fascia time to be affected by the stretch. Stretch hard like this only when you have a fully pumped muscle as you must give your fascia a reason to expand. If your muscles aren’t pumped, just stretch normally.
- Understanding Your Fascia (thebalanceguru.wordpress.com)
- Did You Know You Were Like Spiderman? (jstherapies.com)
- Massage Therapy Improves Flexibility (massageenvy.com)
- How Stretching and Massage Therapy can Improve Flexibility (massageenvy.com)
- Understanding Your Fascia | Running Times Magazine (balancebiomechanics.wordpress.com)
- How to Improve Flexibility With a Stretching Routine (massageenvy.com)
- Lower Back Pain? No More! (thetraininggeek.wordpress.com)
- What is Fascia? (rhvillegas.wordpress.com)