PictureA Brief Stretch
This article is aimed at those that want to stretch compromised muscle. Who has compromised muscle? Well just about everyone. In our movementless society our muscles get stiff. Over the years our muscles get compromised.

The method I speak about are championed by Jim and Phil Wharton. They work with some of the top athletes in the world. Many of you will immediately point to yoga and say isn’t that stretching. Stay with me I’m not anti-yoga it is terrific exercise, but for many it does not restore the function they hope and in this material we will get into why.

The stretch reflex mechanism is responsible for protecting muscles from getting torn. There are nerves in muscle that monitor muscle stretch. After about three seconds of stretch the nerves give the cerebellum the message that the muscle is at risk of tearing and the muscle is contracted. Therefore when you hold the stretch for longer than three seconds the muscle is in contraction not stretching.

To get your muscles to actually stretch you need to stretch the muscle before the stretch reflex mechanism engages. Muscles are stretched passively, you stretch target muscles with the assist of other muscles. For instance:

Most of us are familiar with calf stretches; you stand on the edge of the step and drop your heels and then raise them back up. It is supposed to stretch your calf muscles. Strengthen your calfs yes, stretch them no. You drop your heels and then immediately engage the same muscle, up down, up down, you get nowhere.  Instead if you put one foot on completely on the step and put the other foot on the edge and drop that heel for 2 seconds while bending the other leg so that you can use that bent leg and perhaps your hand on the hand rail to bring the heal back to its neutral position. Then after 8 to 12 times you will actually stretch your calf.

The method is gentle, and very dynamic. This method is a highly productive massage tool which I use often in my injury massage. To learn how to stretch go to mrtherapy.com it has a stretch DVD (buy the rope w/DVD). This DVD is provides a simple format to learn a number of stretches that help you regain function. The video production has a bit to be desired but the information is golden. You can also go to Whartonhealth.com to learn more about this productive type of stretching.

There is also another method of stretching that incorporates the principles we spoke to you above and is responsible for the way you are presently flexible and inflexible; more about that in the next blog.



Above pic Creative Commons