Stretch for the Pains
Stretch for the Gains
The Importance of Stretching Before and After Exercise
Stretching is vital and essential to all of the muscles in the body to help ensure optimal performance when being active, as well as when at rest. Increasing the resting length of muscle tissue can increase the amount of active tension, which is directly proportional to generating contractile force within the muscle tissue. In order to generate an increase in force, we must first place the muscle in an optimal stretch in order to generate enough contractile force to perform the desired movement.
When we exercise at a high intensity, there is an aerobic component that can potentially lead to a significant reduction of ATP, as well as allow for a buildup of lactic acid and accumulation of metabolic anaerobic byproducts, and increase in tissue acidity. These byproducts have the potential to inhibit muscle contraction, can lower the pH within the cells, as well as cause acidosis. Other metabolic waste byproducts such as hydrogen can interfere with the release of ATP, and essentially with muscle contractions. When the demand for ATP outnumbers the production, metabolic fatigue sets in. The increase in acidity from lactic acid increases during high levels of physical activity, which may in turn also lead to premature muscle fatigue. When ATP cannot be generated in sufficient amounts, the muscle tissue weakens and becomes easily fatigued as well as becoming less efficient in producing muscle contraction. Overtime, the continued onset of acidosis affecting the muscle tissue can cause the nitrogen balance within the muscle tissue to dip below optimal needs, which will increase the loss of muscle protein, and with it, loss in strength and performance.
Stretching before activity
Allows the body to increase blood flow to muscles you will be utilizing during strenuous activity. By ensuring adequate blood flow by gently and passively stretching out large muscle groups, they will be more prepared for activity than muscles that are activated without stretching and warming up, essentially utilizing them without sufficient blood flow.
A good goal is like a strenuous exercise.
It makes you stretch.
Stretching after strenuous activity
Can allow for lactic acid and other metabolic anaerobic byproducts to filter out of the muscles and into the blood stream where they can be transported to the liver and kidneys to be removed from the body. When individuals fail to cool down and stretch, they allow for the build up of lactic acid and other metabolic anaerobic byproducts within the muscle tissue, causing damage and preventing efficient use of the muscle tissue by preventing optimal nutrition through blood flow and filtration resulting in decreased optimal performance of the muscle tissue.
Helpful ways to ensure that you effectively, and efficiently stretch vital muscle groups that are used on a daily basis
It is important to understand the origin and insertion of the muscle tissue in order to better understand the biomechanics behind stretching those muscles
The Hamstrings Muscle Group
The three muscles that are collectively known as the Hamstrings are: the long head and short head of the Biceps Femoris, the Semimembranosus, and the semitendinosus.
A common action for all muscles in the hamstring group is knee flexion and hip extension, with the exclusion of the short head of the Biceps Femoris.
As we use our Hamstrings muscles on a daily basis with the simple task of walking, it is easy to
understand that these muscles may become overworked over a period of time, or after prolonged strenuous activity.
The piriformis is a deep rotator
muscle located in close proximity to the glutes, and assists with internal rotation of the hip. Often times this little muscle causes increased discomfort due to it’s proximity to the sciatic
nerve. Many individuals who suffer from low back pain suffer in part due to the piriformis restricting the path of the sciatic nerve due to muscle tension. In order to alleviate this discomfort
it is vital to stretch the sciatic nerve on a daily basis. In order to do so, one must perform the opposite of internal rotation of the hip, and stretch the piriformis by holding the hip in a
static, externally rotated position. The easiest way to perform this is to lie flat on your back and bend both knees with feet flat in a hook lying position. Cross the ankle of the side you wish
to stretch on top of the opposite knee as if sitting cross-legged. Use both hands to pull your planted leg toward your chest slowly by placing them on the hamstrings, just above the back of the
knee that your opposite foot is resting upon. Holding this stretch will illicit a mild pain near the glutes. Say hello to your PIRIFORMIS!
The Gluteus Maximus
The gluteus, or glutes as they are more commonly referred to, assist with hip extension as well as lateral rotation of the hip. As the primary action is hip extension and hyperextension, it is imperative that we stretch the gluteus maximus by performing hip flexion. The easiest way to perform this stretch is to lie on your back with both legs flat, and bend the knee of the side you wasn’t to stretch, and pull your knee to your chest and the shoulder of the same side. As the glutes originate at the posterior sacrum and ilium, it may almost feel as if you are stretching your back while performing this stretch.
Hip Flexor and Quadriceps
The hip flexor or iliopsoas muscle group, and the quadriceps muscle group cover the anterior portion of the thigh, and assist with hip flexion and knee extension respectively. In order to stretch these muscles, the knee and hip must be in extension. However, we cannot stretch these two muscles at the same time. As the quadriceps muscle group spans two joints, we must keep the hip at neutral, or slightly flexed in order to elicit a deep stretch on them. We can do this by flexing the knee while keeping the hip in a neutral position while pulling your heel toward your glutes. When we pull the foot back far enough to pull the hip into extension, we can feel the iliopsoas muscle, or hip flexor stretching above the quadriceps.
Upper Trapezius and
These muscles are found about the head and neck, and serve to elevate each scapula or shoulder blade, while the upper traps assist with upward rotation of the shoulder blade, and the levator scapula assists with downward rotation of the scapula.
Both muscles can cause a strain at the head and neck, and have typically caused headaches as well as decreased range of motion for cervical rotation when they are tight and/or weak. In order to stretch these muscles, it is vital to ensure that you do not indecently elevate the scapula.
In order to prevent this, it is imperative that you sit on the palm of your hand of the side you wish to stretch. This stands true for both stretches. In order to isolate the upper traps, you must first correct your posture and sit up tall. Then, with you free hand, pull your ear toward the shoulder of your free arm, while maintaining a neutral position without turning the neck to the left or right (looking straight forward). This stretch should be felt between the ear and shoulder.
The levator scapula can be stretched in a similar fashion while sitting, palm up, on the hand of the side you wish to stretch. The difference for this stretch is that you must rotate your head 45 degrees toward the side you wish to stretch. With you free hand, pull your head from the back, moving your head over the thigh of the opposite side you are stretching, essentially pulling for forehead toward your knee while maintaining an upright posture.
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