Stretching after a practice? Not from the reason that you thought about

People tend to think that stretching the muscles after training prevents muscles stiffness. In this article we will exam this claim and if stretching can hurt us instead. In addition, we will understand the purpose of stretching and how to do it right.

First of all, it is important to understand that stretching a muscle, is continuous extension of the muscle in the end of the range with an extra press in the end of the range:

The main goal of the stretch is to improve the flexibility of the muscles and the rest of the tissues in the body. So, what is it flexibility? Flexibility is the ability to move a joint in its full range with no pain.

Active flexibility – the ability to move a joint in its full range by using the muscles.

Passive flexibility – the ability to move a joint in its full range by using an external help (gravity or our hand are also an external help). Our passive flexibility is 8% bigger than the active flexibility.

It is important to understand that there are few types of muscle stretching. We will focus on the two main types that we know.

The first stretching type is active ballistic stretch – stretching the muscle by moving an organ in its full range, by repetitive rapid movements. Does not increase flexibility, but stimulus the stretching reflex, shortens the muscle instead of extending. This kind of stretching will be good as a warm up, preparing the muscle for training and move the joint in its full range. It's important to mention that warming up with a short run will lead to a better performance of the muscle and will decrease the risk for an injury, than a ballistic stretch. These stretches are recommended before practices that brings the muscle to reach its full range such as soccer or gymnastics.

The second stretching type is a passive-static stretch – stretching the muscle by using an external force to the range that you feel uncomfortable, slight pain. Stretches from this type are recommended for most of the population and we will focus on them.

So what are the effects of a passive stretch?

The first effect as we have mentioned is flexibility of the muscle. What is the importance of flexibility?

*Inflexible muscle will be less effective in moving the joint. In a flexible muscle there is a gap between the fibers that enables a better contraction.

*inflexible muscle will have higher tendency to have trigger points, pain arousing points.

*inflexible muscle can prevent a proper position. For example, chest muscles can cause us to bend our shoulders or the iliopsoas that can cause back pain.