You have been told that stretching will lengthen your muscles. While stretching has certain benefits and effects, it has been disproven that your muscles grow in length because of it.
We once thought that by stretching muscle we could mechanically change how long they were via viscoelastic properties, plastic deformation properties, and sarcomere series increases. Many studies have shown that mechanical alterations were not occurring, debunking the theories that muscle length increases from stretching.
There have been some changes in the theory of why one’s range of motion may increases with stretching. Initially, it was thought of as neuromuscular relaxation but studies have shown no change in electromyography (EMG) activity of the stretched muscles.
The most recent and current theory is a sensory theory for muscle extensibility. According to this theory our perception of a sensation (or pain) can be changed by stretching. We respond to a sensation during stretch and overtime that same sensation reduces and we can stretch further or we feel the same sensation further into the stretch than before.
Reach for your toes for 5 seconds, then stand up. Do it again and respond below if you were able to go further.
If you would like to learn more about stretching and these theories please leave a comment below or get in touch with me.
The Movement Dr. is here to educate, empower, create independence and resilience so that you can “ReThink Your Rehab” and outwork everyone!