I am guilty of not doing this ENOUGH. Why I should be doing it more and why it is so important. Stretching - Part One.
STRETCHING PART ONE: THE BASICS + MUSCLE IMBALANCES
Stretching. I get it, you finished your run or your lift and you are DONE. Workout complete, ready to get on with the rest of your day. Stretching may be the last thing you want to do but it may be just as important as your next work out. Stretching and flexibility can help to prevent and treat muscular injuries.
Let’s define the basics:
Flexibility – ability to move a joint through its full range of motion. (pg 652)
Poor flexibility can lead to relative flexibility – the tendency of the body to seek the path of least resistance during functional movement patterns. For instance, you may be able to do a squat, but it may be in the incorrect form because you lack flexibility in some joints.
Extensibility – capability to be elongated or stretched. (pg. 652)
Why is stretching good for you and what does it do for your body?
Your body functions at its best when your muscles are at optimal alignment. When you are out of alignment, patterns of dysfunction develop. These patterns of dysfunctions are known as distortion patterns – predictable patterns of muscle imbalances.
Muscle Imbalances are alterations in the lengths of muscles surrounding a given joint. They can occur for many reasons including:
- Postural stress
- Emotional duress
- Repetitive movement
- Cumulative trauma
- Poor training technique
- Lack of core strength
- Lack of neuromuscular efficiency- (ability of your neuromuscular system to properly recruit muscles to produce force) (pg. 166)
Let’s take a look at muscles in pairs to discuss common muscle imbalances.
Hip Flexor and Gluteus Maximus. If the hip flexor is overly tight it will limit the functioning of the gluteus maximus. This is known as altered reciprocal inhibition.
If reciprocal inhibition is happening (hip flexor too tight so gluteus maximus not working properly) then the hamstring complex will have to do the work to extend your hip.
This is known as synergistic dominance – the inappropriate muscle takes over for a weak muscle.
Both altered reciprocal inhibition and synergistic dominance leads to faulty movement patterns, which means, your body will complete the movement, but use the incorrect muscles to do so. This can put a lot of stress on your joints. Stretching can help correct these overly tight muscles.
UP NEXT, STRETCHING PART TWO: WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR MUSCLES AS WE STRETCH + BENEFITS OF STRETCHING
Clark, Michael; Sutton, Brian; and Lucett, Scott. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. Jones & Bartlett Learning. MA. Print 2014