Myth…I should hold a stretch for 10 sec – 3 min in order for it to do me any good, right? WRONG!
Muscles can elongate 1.6 times their resting length when they’re healthy, but they generally don’t like to do that. If you elongate a muscle for a prolonged period of time or you stretch it to far, it automatically recoils to protect itself from ripping. On the other hand, your muscle will ballistically recoil if you stretch to fast too soon. Both these neurological reactions or compensations are called “Myotatic reflexes”. Lets focus on the long stretches for now; when stretching for 10 seconds or more, the intensity just might become to much for your muscles. Imagine yourself the last time you tried to do splits. Unless you are naturally flexible, it might have been something like this; you leap out of the chair and stand straight up, then you slid your right foot forward and your left foot backward until you felt a “tug” on the insides of your thighs. You either pull up your legs immediately or buckle your knees and drop to the floor to get that pressure of your hips. You pull your knees up to relax the tension. You were experiencing the “Myotatic reflex”: a load and clear message that you were going to rip the muscle in the next second and you needed to let go NOW.
The trick in progressing in flexibility is to stretch a muscle quickly and gently, without allowing it time to engage the “Myotatic reflex”. When doing this, the muscle you are stretching is totally relaxed as the muscle on top of it is doing all the work. The stretched muscle never has the time to fire, because it is stretched, held for 2 seconds, and released. Therefor the stretched muscle doesn’t need to protect itself and the “Myotatic reflex” was never engaged.
So from now on, never stretch longer than 2 seconds, see more at www.stretchingsa.co.za or give us a call at 012 9918710.