”Flexibility is a KEY part of being fit!”
Have you ever seen the huge bodybuilder who can’t barely move, because he has so much muscle that wont even move?? That is not a person with a functioning body, nor is it healthy for their joints which will soon be pulling the wrong directions and imbalanced to the point of injury. When you constantly contract a muscle, it “remembers” , and keeps getting tighter and shorter, allowing for little range of motion. Our muscles are meant to stretch 1.5 times longer than it’s original length. This is what provides not only a full range of motion for our joints, but also repairs the muscle after constant contracting of the fibers. Can we overstretch… Well, actually yes! You do want to keep the muscles strong enough to assist our ligaments and tendons, in keeping our joints in place. So like everything involved in fitness this requires a balance… We must contract and make out muscles dense and strong, as well as remember to stretch them to keep them long, lean, and functioning properly.
“How Do I know what to stretch, and properly incorporate stretching into a balanced exercise regimen?”
Well, When I meet new clients and they show me what hurts and what their daily routine is…. I like to start by a good assisted stretch. The reason for this is I can learn a lot about their body and what is being constantly used. I always get the question… “Why?” ”Why is that muscle so tight?…. And the easy answer is… “Well…. Life happened!”
When we don’t stretch but constantly use the same muscles for our daily activities, it is normal to develop imbalances. What happens is some muscles get tight, and the other muscles actually get weak…
Think of the positive and negative of a battery- our muscles have antagonist muscles that assist in out every motion. When you life your arm, one muscle shortens, and the opposite muscle must lengthen to accomplish the desired motion. However, if you are constantly repeating the same motion, weather it be from a job, a sport, or an imbalanced exercise routine, you will undoubtedly tighten that muscle which is constantly contracting… This will develop a nuero-muscular connection with the overdeveloped muscle that is almost like your brain showing favoritism towards the stronger muscle. Your brain actually stops recruiting the other one as much, creating a snowball effect of that poor neglected muscle -causing it to become even weaker.
Once this has happened long enough, the enevitable occurs…. The joints are the next victim.
*Remember- Your muscles ARE attached to your bones!!
For example: If One bully muscle on the outside of your leg is so strong and the one on the inside is So weak, your knee joint is actually going to be pulled towards the strong one. It is a simple law of tension. It is the same with every muscle relationship in your body… They must have balance. So consider stretching like- relationship counciling for your muscles. You have to deal with your body and the pain it emits, so make sure your muscles are happily working together and all getting equal attention. Each muscle will have a specific need and everyone’s body is different.
To incorporate this into fixing yourself and balancing out… Find out which muscles are tight and really strong- and STRETCH THEM… Then find the muscle that is it’s antagonist- and STRENGTHEN IT.
Any form of overcompensation will eventually cause a muscular imbalance and result in pain. So guys think of this before you walk with Swagger!