Does Stretching Make You More Flexible?
Sounds like a strange question, I know, you were taught in school that it does. Stretching is an important, if not essential addition to any good workout, and the reason being that it loosens your muscles, allowing you to perform at a higher level. Despite the almost worldwide acceptance of the pre-workout stretch, scientists can’t entirely explain what’s going on.
This lack of knowledge does not mean you should abandon the stretch, even though we’d all love to be able to just fly straight into an intense workout. Yoga and other forms of stretching do make you more flexible, it’s simply not known why, or for how long the effects last. According to an article on Huffington Post:
“Yoga will make you more flexible, but we don’t know how,” said Jules Mitchell, a yoga instructor and a master’s degree candidate in exercise science at California State University, Long Beach.
It is clear that stretching doesn’t actually make muscles permanently longer, experts agree. Instead, it may be that exercises such as reaching for your toes train the nervous system to tolerate a greater degree of muscle extension without firing off pain signals.
The pain tolerance point would help explain why we do it before our workout, it makes you feel stronger, fitter, less prone to injury. But if it’s only a matter of tolerance, does that make you less likely to be injured? There must be more to it than only tolerance.
“The body adapts to the movements you most frequently make,” Mitchell said. “The corollary to that is that the body adapts to the movements you don’t make: It adapts by not making those movements anymore.”
People who want more forgiving hamstrings or hip joints need to stand up, sit, squat, walk and change positions throughout the day.
I for one wouldn’t go discarding the stretch just yet, if not for the potential for increased flexibility and less likelihood of injury, then simply for the peace of mind. Check out the rest of the article for all the relevant insights and information.
About Sam Brinson Sam is a writer living in Uruguay. Sam follows the latest in aging break throughs.