Do you know how stretching actually changes your muscles? As an avid fitness enthusiast, I’ve always been interested in the intricate mechanics of our bodies. Recently, a video titled “How stretching actually changes your muscles” by Malachy McHugh caught my eye. The video offered profound insights into a routine activity we often take for granted – stretching.
Key Takeaways from the Video
Stretching and Its Role in Injury Prevention
Primarily, athletes stretch to prevent injuries like muscle strains and tears. Two types of stretching come into play, dynamic stretches, involving controlled movements for a range of muscles, and static stretches, where specific muscles are held at a fixed length and tension.
The Science Behind Stretching
Contrary to popular belief, muscles aren’t akin to rubber bands. They’re a complex amalgamation of various tissue types that react differently when stretched. Muscles are viscoelastic, meaning they exhibit both elastic and viscous characteristics. They change under the stress of being stretched, unlike the elastic behavior of a rubber band.
Stretching on Macro and Micro Levels
On a larger scale, when we stretch, we’re pulling on layers of protective tissue around the muscle fibers and the tendons that connect muscles to bones. These tissues are rich in elastic proteins like collagen and elastin, enabling them to elongate slightly over the stretch’s duration. On a smaller scale, millions of sarcomeres, the smallest contracting unit of muscle tissue, elongate or contract to either pull on the tendons and protective tissue or create the force that propels our bodies.
Impact of Stretching on Flexibility and Injury Prevention
Prolonged stretching aids flexibility and likely reduces the risk of specific muscle injuries. However, this effect lasts for about 10 minutes without further activity. The elevated muscle temperature from exercise can prolong the increased flexibility.
Improving Flexibility – A Long-term Commitment
Improving flexibility isn’t a quick process. It necessitates a comprehensive and consistent stretching regimen. Sarcomeres are added or removed from muscles based on their usage. Current research suggests stretching for at least 10 minutes a day for approximately two months. Importantly, over-stretching should be avoided to prevent potential joint damage.
The Effect of Stretching on the Brain and Pain Threshold
Consistent stretching also contributes to lasting changes in the brain. The more a muscle is stretched, the higher the pain threshold becomes, permitting further stretching. Long-term improvements in flexibility can enhance the range of motion for joints, potentially reducing the risk of muscle injury in the long term.
Why Watch This Video
The insights from this video extend beyond the athletic realm. It provides a unique perspective on the interplay between stretching and the human body. This understanding could revolutionize the way we view mobility and flexibility, highlighting their critical role in our overall health. Whether you’re an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or someone simply intrigued by the intricacies of the human body, this video is a must-watch.
For the scientific community, the video provides an accessible and engaging breakdown of the science behind stretching, serving as an invaluable resource for teaching and learning.
This article is not just a review, it’s a call to action. Embrace the lessons and incorporate them into your daily routine. As we delve deeper into the science of stretching, we recognize that it’s more than a pre or post-workout activity. It’s a practice that could shape our health and well-being.