We will see in this article how to stretch well to gain muscle power and flexibility.
We saw in the previous article of the series, why you had to do stretching muscle contraction during exercise causes tension in your tendons and joints that can lead to loss of mobility and pain. We had also seen how the shortening of these muscles diminished your muscular power.
Now that you understand why you should stretch, we will see how to do it ...to stretch well
1- How to stretch muscles?
The bones are connected to each other by joints that are held by ligaments. These articulations are more or less mobile; and a contortionist who wants a large range of motion goes, in addition to muscle stretching, stretching the joints. The problem is that these joints become hyperlaxes (too soft) and for a karateka it is not very recommended.
Indeed, a karateka will submit his body to very fast movements with energy transfers from the hara (belly) to the limbs or the ground and vice versa. These energy flows must be able to pass through the joints without loss. It is therefore necessary that the joints are strong and well maintained, certainly by the muscles, but also by the articular ligaments which must not be too loose.
So what we are going to try to do is to stretch the muscles and not the joints. But in order to stretch the muscle, it must be as relaxed as possible so that the muscle fibers (myofibrils) of actin and myosin, which we had talked about in the last article, relax and return to their original position.
The big problem with stretching is just relaxation. We need to be as relaxed as possible to stretch and that, you'll probably agree with me, it's not the most obvious to realize and feel and we'll see why and how to fix it.
2- The myotatic reflex:
Indeed, a muscle that is stretched will have an unfortunate tendency to contract automatically. It is the myotatic reflex, it is it that allows us to stand up without it being necessary to wonder which muscle one must contract not to lean on one side or the other.
If myotatic reflex is very practical in everyday life, it annoys us a little during stretching because we do not want the muscle to contract. That's why you have to do the stretching slowly, without straining and especially without a hitch. You must gain millimeter by millimeter by relaxing as much as possible and breathing calmly and deeply in order to thwart the vigilance of the myotatic reflex.
Indeed, the myotatic reflex reacts a bit like a seatbelt If you pull it sharply, the belt will lock (like a safety reflex), but if you go slowly, you can stretch the belt to its maximum.
With your muscles, it's the same thing: If you pull too hard or jerkily, the myotatic reflex triggers and your muscle contracts instead of relaxing.
Stretches must be a moment of relaxation and not as we often see a balance of power between his will and his muscular tension.
Often you pull too hard on the muscle and it contracts (reflex myotatic). As you have a lot of will you keep shooting and as you feel that it pulls, you are convinced that what you are doing is good.
But you will not stretch your muscles, but you do exactly the opposite: Indeed, you are pulling more and more hard on a muscle that is contracted. You feel it pulls, simply because you pull on your tendons and their insertion points. Your muscle will, instead of stretching, contract more and more and therefore shorten even more and you generate a few body aches. In short, you are doing the opposite of what to do.
So you have to stretch gently while breathing slowly. As soon as you feel a slight tension in the muscle, you maintain your position by relaxing, then slowly you continue to stretch so that the muscle naturally relaxes and continues to lie down.
3- Tendinous organs of Golgi:
There is another reflex that will greatly interest us for stretching:
Our tendons contain small organs called, Golgi tendon organs. They are located at the muscle-tendon junction and have a protective role that consists of reacting to any excess traction on the tendon insertion by relaxation of the stretched muscle (inhibitory effect).
Thus, by releasing the muscle, this reflex mechanism goes exactly in the direction of what we are looking for. We will therefore seek to stimulate the tendon organs of Golgi to obtain maximum relaxation of the muscle. Golgi's tendon organs take several seconds to react so stretching should be intensive enough, but most importantly, be maintained for several seconds.
You may think that the myotatic reflex and that of the Golgi tendon organs are incompatible because on the one hand I tell you not to shoot hard, and on the other I tell you to shoot hard ???
In fact, your stretches should not be abrupt (not suddenly) but rather be very progressive in order to thwart the myotatic reflex but they should last long enough with sufficient intensity to take advantage of the trigger triggered by the tendon organs of Golgi.
That's it, think especially to relax and go very gradually. Breathe slowly and try to visualize the muscle you are stretching. Relax and stretch it gently by gaining millimeter by millimeter and so your stretching will be effective and you will gain in strength and flexibility during your workouts.
I hope you have better understood how to stretch without straining and while relaxing.
I have prepared a podcast with all the detailed tips! to listen and listen again:
In the next articles we will see ...
>>> The different types of stretching (passive, activo-dynamic ...)
In the meantime, give me your first impressions in a comment below!
See you soon,
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