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Physiologic Stretching

Stretching is to change the length of muscles or to reset the ‘length reflexes’ in the muscles.
This will help maintain a balance in the body and increase performance of muscles.

To stretch most people pull hard on a muscle
People under 25 can often do this “Stretch or die” stretch and it lengthens
The further that people are from 25 the more they have to negotiate a stretch.

Using an understanding of muscle physiology there are three basic ways to stretch

  1. Passive stretching
  2. Post isometric stretching
  3. Breathing assisted stretching

Passive stretching

Engage the muscle. Stretch using only 20- 50 % of the power. Wait 20 to 30 seconds or until the muscle relaxes and lengthens. Repeat as required.

The anatomy of a muscle.

The muscles are made up of many bundles.
A model of thinking of these is to think of
Bundles of 10 which are often the regulator muscles
Bundles of 100
Bundles of 1000 which are the power muscles

A good alternative is stretching in stages

Stage one: Engaging the muscle
Gives the feeling “I can only just feel the muscle but I am not doing a stretch”
Using the bundles of 10
Wait 20 to 30 seconds or until the muscle relaxes and lengthens

Stage two: Medium pressure
In this stretch the muscle or muscle group is held with medium pressure 20- 30 %
Using the bundles of 100
Wait 20 to 30 seconds or until the muscle relaxes and lengthens

Stage three: Hard Stretch
A More powerful stretch
It is common that the muscle relaxes quite quickly at this stage.
Using the bundles of 1000
Wait 20 to 30 seconds or until the muscle relaxes and lengthens

Post-Isometric Stretching Similar to PNF stretching

In this stretch the muscle or muscle group is held with medium pressure 20- 30%. Then the muscle is held in a constant length and the muscle being stretched is activated to about 30 % of power for 5 seconds. The muscle is still held at the set length for another 5 seconds. Then the muscle length is re adjusted and the process repeated up to 3 times.

Breathing Assisted

When be forcefully breathe in we tighten muscles ant then when we breathe out we relax muscles. This is similar to the post isometric stretch but it uses breathing instead of muscle contraction. The stretch point is held firm and deep inspiration is held for 5 seconds, then the muscle is still held while a deep out breath is held for 5 seconds, then the stretch point is relocated and the process is repeated as required.

A good general discussion on stretching is at the Injury Fix website.

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