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We are thinking about stretching all wrong: Many assume that the static reach-and-hold method is just what our muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons need to permanently improve elasticity and increase muscle length. Yet the latest research indicates that this is far from the best approach to achieve full range of motion and active mobility. “Some studies show that elasticity gains only last for 15 minutes following the stretch,” (Jon Schriner, D.O. Medical Director of Michigan Center for Athletic Medicine). After that time, the temporary elastic improvement moves back to its baseline. Additionally, muscle length does not necessarily change despite what the word “stretch” implies. Yes, the muscle lengthens as it stretches, but that the same time the stretched muscle temporary lengthens, its opposing muscle shortens. When that stretch is released, both muscles move back to equilibrium. Despite this fact, most of us feel that burn left by strained muscles and assume that our method is working. Think of a car seatbelt. If you pull too quickly it locks. If you continue to force it, you’re just stretching the material itself—that’s what it means to micro-strain a muscle, But if you were to pull your car seatbelt nice and smoothly and in control, it will come out much farther.
Rather than pulling on our limbs to the point of soreness, Stretch Zone® works through the nervous system to achieve lasting flexibility gains. The method rests on the notion that manipulating our muscle’s nervous energy is a major key to unlocking our body’s functional flexibility. This nervous energy, known as the stretch reflex, is our body’s automatic defense against the dangers of overstretching. Any movement that goes too far or too fast or is held for too long, past that current active range of motion, your body will resist with the stretch reflex. Once the reflex kicks in, your body has effectively said “no more” and resists the stretch. Any further attempt at stretching becomes futile straining.
When your body is stabilized correctly, it doesn’t have fear. It can relax and allow the full stretch to occur. Stretch practitioners are taught to position, stabilize, isolate and manipulate muscles in order to work with that nervous tension. The great benefit of practitioner assisted stretching is the ability to control and alter the timing of and even overcome the stretch reflex. The practitioner systematically position stabilize isolates and stretches your’ muscles in using comfortable straps and will adjust them based on body part throughout the session. The straps work to stabilize the limb or part of body that the practitioner is not working on, thus allowing the stretched muscle and the person on the table to completely relax. With that, the practitioner has the unique opportunity to control the body’s nervous tension, and slowly bring the muscles past their current range of motion and back to neutral tension before the stretch reflex fires. So we go almost there to that little kick that the muscle gives, and then we move back, and then we move back in. If you do that repetitively you can keep going a little further and further without the stretch reflex firing.
-Stretch www.stretchzone.com 3 months ago