Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle or tendon (or muscle group) is deliberately flexed or stretched in order to improve the elasticity felt by the muscle and to obtain a comfortable muscle tone. The result is a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility and range of motion. Stretching is also used therapeutically to relieve cramps. In its most basic form, stretching is a natural and instinctive activity; it is done by humans and many other animals. This can be accompanied by yawning. Stretching often occurs instinctively after waking up, after long periods of inactivity or after leaving spaces and confined spaces. Increasing flexibility by stretching is one of the basic principles of fitness. It is common for athletes to stretch before (to warm up) and after the effort to try to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance, although these practices may not always be based on scientific evidence. ‘efficiency. Stretching can be dangerous if it is not done properly. There are many stretching techniques in general, but depending on which muscle group is stretched, some techniques may be ineffective or detrimental, leading to hypermobility, instability, or permanent damage to tendons, ligaments, and muscle fibers. . The physiological nature of stretching and the theories of the effect of various techniques are therefore subject to much research. Although static stretching (see the image on the right for an example) is part of some warm-up routines, a 2013 study indicated that it was weakening the muscles. For this reason, dynamic stretching is recommended before exercise instead of static stretching, while the latter helps to reduce muscle soreness afterwards.

Studies have highlighted the function, in stretching, of a large protein in skeletal muscle myofibrils named titin. A study by Magid and Law has shown that the origin of passive muscle tension (which occurs during stretching) is actually in the myofibrils, and not extracellular as previously thought. Due to neurological safeguards against injury, it is normally impossible for adults to stretch most muscle groups along their entire length without training due to the activation of muscle antagonists when the muscle reaches the limit of its amplitude. normal.

There are five different types of stretch: ballistic, dynamic, SMF stretch, PNF stretch and static stretch. Ballistic stretching is a quick stretch in which a part of the body moves with a momentum that stretches the muscles to the maximum. The muscles react to this type of stretching by contracting to protect themselves from excessive extension. Dynamic stretching is a stretch of walking or moving. By performing controlled movements slowly throughout the range of motion, a person reduces the risk of injury. Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) is a type of stretching for a particular muscle and its specific work, so resistance must be applied and then the muscle must be relaxed. Static stretching is a type of stretching by which a person stretches the muscle until a soft tension is felt, then maintains the stretch for thirty seconds or until muscle release is felt, without movement or rebound. Examples of static stretching include elbows, arm and shoulder stretches and other ergonomic stretching that can be done in the cabin.

Although many people practice stretching before or after exercise, medical evidence has shown that there is no significant benefit in preventing muscle pain. Stretching does not seem to reduce the risk of injury during exercise, except perhaps for runners. There is evidence that stretching before exercise can increase the range of motion of athletes. The Mayo Clinic advises against bouncing off the stumps, and holding them for thirty seconds. To prevent injury, they suggest warming up before stretching or stretching after exercise.

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