We all grow up with the idea that our muscles are some kind of putty that need to be pulled and twisted before and after exercising so they don’t get injured and remain supple. But actually, this is a misconception. Some individuals feel that stretching reduces muscle soreness (and if this is the case, continue) but stretching has shown not to reduce injury risk or muscle soreness and also can have quite temporary results. I.e. you may notice an increased flexibility for around a few minutes to an hour.
So what’s a better alternative?
- the movements are incorporated into the body’s motor systems which are basically movement patterns. This doesn’t happen as readily whilst stretching because this is a passive act, rather than being active
- you can improve linear hypertrophy. This is the body laying down muscle tissue in a linear direction to elongate muscle tissue
- by loading the muscle in an elongated state, you can more effectively override or inhibit structures called muscle spindles, that limit muscle extensibility (flexibility)
A common example would be comparing a typical hamstring stretch to a straight leg deadlift which can be modified to a really good loaded stretch. Have a go and let us know what you think
For further reading, look up Dr Andreo Spina and Paul Ingram who have written some fantastic reviews of stretching and contributed to theories or improving flexibility