Stretch Like This To Increase Flexibility

Stretching does not have to be the same old boring reach and touch your toes and hold it for 10 seconds.  It can be so much more than that. There is a way to go about increasing flexibility faster than this method.  Literally, with this method, You will get more flexible in one session, and it is not just for one or two muscles it can be done from head to toe.  If you are tired of having to get treatment constantly than this is the type of stretching for you.  Along with the slight strength gains that can be acquired, the stretch helps relieve tension in muscles.

The form of stretching I am talking about is called “PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching”.  To make sense of things, and for some simplicity, I like to call it stretching with a partner. It is a form of activity that is done passively because your partner really is doing most of the work. For those who are dying to know the secret on how PNF works, I will tell you. There is an isometric contraction done before the stretch that allows the muscle to receive gains in flexibility and strength.  There is the secret not let me explain.

History

PNF was developed in the 1950s by a medical doctor, two physical therapists, and a neurophysiologist. When I even just think about the job titles of the people who came up with the technique it impresses me.  Physical therapists want to bring people back from injuries; a doctor has the broad knowledge base, while the neurologists have an in-depth understanding of the nervous system. As a Team, they studied principles of neuropsychological development to rehab patients with polio and paralysis.

Some Science You Need To Know

Sherrington’s Law- His law developed the law of Reciprocal Innervations which is key in PNF stretching.  The Law pointed out a key feature that could help a muscle lengthens.  Anytime there is a contraction of a muscle there is reciprocal innervation that inhibits the opposite muscle.  For example then the tricep contracts it causes the bicep to be inhibited, therefore allowing the elbow to straighten.

The Basic Contraction of a Muscle

  • 2 types of contraction
  • Isotonic- two types of contractions, the first is concentric the second is eccentric. Concentric is when the muscle contracts while shortening in length. Eccentric is when the muscle contracts while elongating in length
  • Isometric– Voluntary contraction where there is no movement of the muscle, meaning it does not shorten or lengthen it just contracts in the same spot

Stretch Reflex

First off a reflex is an involuntary muscle contraction as a reaction to a certain stimulus.  A stretch reflex is a reflex that occurs when stretching to prevent the muscles and joints from injury.  The Myotatic stretch reflex is a mechanism in place to prevent injury to muscle from stretching too far, or too fast.  The partner for the PNF technique must be careful in not activating this reflex. Meaning the stretch must be brought to the point where it is not stretching too far and it should be brought to this position in a controlled manner.

There is also a reflex that is opposite to the myotatic stretch reflex. It is called the inverse stretch reflex and when this reflex occurs the muscle actually relaxes.  The reflex is triggered by stretch receptors called Golgi Tendon Organs which are intertwined into muscle fibers. Their job is to basically keep a watch on the stress on a tendon and they have the power to relax or tighten a muscle.  When the stretch is being performed the tendons stimulate the Golgi Tendons and slowly allow the muscle to relax and lengthen. This also is a key component in not allowing the muscle to reduce its chances of tearing.

Before We, Stretch Keep In mind that…

  • Muscle should be warmed up before stretching it puts your muscles in a position of being more flexible
  • There should never be any pain in PNF stretching or any stretching you do
  • Stretching is most effective when it is comfortable
  • Post-exercise stretching is much better than pre-exercise stretching

Stretch Shall We

Language of Partner Commands

  • Resist- Stretcher needs to begin contracting target muscle to begin isometric contraction
  • Push-Partner is going to release some tension to being concentric contraction
  • Relax-Stretcher needs let partner have complete control of their body
  • Flex- Opposite muscle needs to be contracted so the stretch may begin
  • More? Less?- These were should be constantly asked to the stretch to make sure that the stretch is not too much or too little

Steps for the Person Being Stretched (using example as a hamstring stretch)

  • Contract opposite muscle to relax the target muscle
  • In this case contract the quad to relax the hamstring
  • Relax and let partner stretch you
  • Once stretch is completed resist partner and begin isometric contraction
  • After resist push and begin concentric contraction

Steps for the Partner

  • Before beginning any stretch make sure the stretcher has contracted the opposite muscle
  • Slowly begin the stretch
  • Once there is tension stop their and ask the stretcher to resist
  • Use strength to hold body part in place while the resist for 3 seconds
  • Release your tension so that the body part begins to move
  • Once concentric movement is completed than
  • Repeat all steps over again only bringing the stretch a bit further
  • Repeat 2-4 times

Safety

  • Partner Should never attempt to stretch leg further than the stretchers body will allow
  • Partner should give all the commands so they are ready to begin resisting
  • Communication is important
  • Partner should avoid awkward twisting or bending, make stretcher move for you
  • Stop immediately with any pain
  • The stretcher does not need to give maximal effort on resisting the partner it just needs to be enough to get a solid contraction

chop wood, carry water

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KHO Health was acquired by was acquire by 9INE POINT in the summer of 2019 and is now referred to as 9INE POINT Health.

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