Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stretching Tidbits

Stretching Exercises Tidbit

Stretching is just as important in maintaining muscle tone and functionality as muscular resistance training. However, many athletes and individuals that exercise tend to forget to stretch. Maybe it is a lack of time, or maybe it is because they don't know how helpful stretching can be to their body.

·         Some benefits of stretching are:
o   Increased range of motion (ROM)
o   Reduction in the rate of muscle function decline that occurs with age
o   Improved posture
o   Stress reduction
o   Tension reduction
o   Looser more pliable muscles
o   Decreased muscle cramping
o   Reduced injury risk
o   Pain relief
o   Over all improved quality of life

·         A few basic facts about muscle and stretching
o   The muscle has two apparatuses that resist quick forces applied to the muscle to reduce injury risk
§  The muscle spindle
·         Reacts to the lengthening of the muscle
·         Promotes a muscular contraction when involuntary lengthening occurs
·         Acutely reduces the muscle’s ability to stretch
§  Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO)
·         The GTO resides within the muscle tendon junction
·         Sensitive to muscle tension and contraction
·         Acutely resists the muscles ability to generate a great force
·         Acutely resists the muscle ability to stretch
o   It takes generally 6 – 10  sec  for both the GTO and the muscle spindle to relax
§  Stretching should last a minimum of 15 sec
§  Preferably stretching should last for 2 – 4 sets of 30 sec
§  Can’t stretch for 30 sec?
·         Try to do the minimum time
·         If painful, then go just to the point of pain, pull back a bit and hold
·         Gradually increase ROM over time
·         Gradually increase your held stretch over time  
·         Stretching Techniques
o   Static (Passive)Stretching / Active-Assisted Stretching
§  Hold a position to just the point of pain or when a stretch is felt
§  Maintain the position for 15 – 30 sec
§  Repeat 2 – 4 times should last approximately 15 – 20 min
§  Choose at least 10 – 12 positions for each stretch session
§  Active-assisted simply involves a partner assisting your stretch
§  View an example

o   Dynamic Stretching
§  Involves strong or full repetitive movements to move through the body’s ROM (can be performed slow and controlled)
§  Best  used as a warm-up
§  Perfect for runners, cyclist and other repetitive or power athletes
§  Perform 8 – 10 exercises / 3 – 4 sets / a set can be timed (30 sec) or 10 – 12 reps
§  View an example

o    Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
§  Requires a partner for a more effective stretch (but can be performed with a towel or other inhibiting device)
§  Hold a passive stretch for 10 sec
§  Perform an active contraction and the partner resists your contraction for 6 -10 sec
§  Increase the passive stretch ROM and hold 6 - 10 sec
§  Repeat at least 3 times
§  View an example
·         Here is an example of self PNF – he uses a wall, but a towel would work


o   Self Myofascial Release (SMR)
§  Releases the top layer of the muscle (fascia) from the muscle
§  Stretching with the use of a foam roller, ball or other compression devise
§  Highly effective and perfect at reforming areas of decreased flexibility
§  Move slow, don’t speed the roll.
§  Best used before a workout
§  Move down  and up the targeted muscle
§  Hold on painful area for 30 sec
§  Move to another painful spot and hold
§  Repeat 2 times on each targeted muscle
§  View an example

§  Why move slow


Biagioli, B. D. (2007). Flexibility Assessment & Programming. Advanced concepts of personal training (1st ed., Chap.16). National Council on Strength & Fitness.

Floyd, R. T. (2009). Neuromuscular Fundamentals. Manual of structural kinesiology (17th ed., Chap. 2). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

Powers, S. K., Dodd, S. L., & Jackson, E. M. (2011). Improving flexibility. Total fitness & wellness (3rd ed., Chap. 5). San Fransisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings.

Prentice, W. E. (2010). Preventing injuries through fitness training. Essential of athletic injury (8th ed., Chap. 4). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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1 comment:

  1. Stretching is just as important in maintaining muscle tone and functionality as muscular resistance training. However, many athletes and individuals that exercise tend to forget to stretch.

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