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Can Stretching Make You Taller?

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.

Sources: http://www.vitalityclinic.ca; http://www.mayoclinic.com; http://www.thestretchinghandbook.com; http://www.juicedmuscle.com

 

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Proper Stretching Technique

 

Stretching is the deliberate lengthening of muscles in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. Stretching in a wrong way causes unnecessary pains.  A few proper stretching techniques are as follows

    • Warm up first
      Stretching muscles when they’re cold increases your risk of pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently pumping your arms, or do a favorite exercise at low intensity for five minutes.
    • Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds – and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. That can seem like a long time, so wear a watch or keep an eye on the clock to make sure you’re holding your stretches long enough. For most of your muscle groups, if you hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds, you’ll need to do each stretch only once.
    • Don’t bounce
      Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears (micro tears) in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. The scar tissue tightens the muscle even further, making you even less flexible – and more prone to pain.
    • Focus on a pain-free stretch
      If you feel pain as you stretch, you’ve gone too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
    • Relax and breathe freely

Don’t hold your breath while you’re stretching

  • Stretch both sides
    Make sure your joint range of motion is as equal as possible on each side of your body
  • Stretch before and after activity
    Light stretching after your warm-up followed by a more thorough stretching regimen after your workout is your best bet

With your new-found knowledge of the proper techniques and benefits of stretching, it will be easy to incorporate this activity into your exercise/rehabilitation regimen. Here are a few good stretches to try:

  • Low Back Stretches
    Three quick and easy exercises to stretch the lower muscles of your back.
  • Morning Stretches
    Stretching in the morning is a great way to “waken” up your muscles, and get them ready for the day.
  • Self Assisted Neck Stretches
    Stretches can be done with self assistance to obtain a more efficient stretch. Here you can learn how to perform self assisted stretches of the neck.

Although the benefits of stretching are many, is not for everyone. Conditions in which stretching should be avoided include:

  • Acute Muscle Strains
    People who have suffered an acute muscle strain should avoid placing further stress on the muscle through stretching activities. The injured muscle should be given time to rest. Stretching muscle fibers in the acute period can result in further injury.
  • Fractured Bones
    After breaking a bone, the fracture site needs time to heal. Stretching muscles that surround this injured area can place stress on the bone and prevent it from healing as well as further displace the break. Stretching a joint that surrounds a broken bone should never be done until cleared by your physician.
  • Joint Sprains
    When you sprain your joint, you overstretch the ligaments that help stabilize the bones that form the joint. For this reason stretching early after a joint sprain should be avoided. As with fractures, these structures need time to heal and stretching too early in the injury will delay this process.

http://www.overviewhealth.com/proper-stretching-technique/

 

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