Wednesday, January 23, 2008

tight vs short muscles

Hi, thanks for following me over here to Blogger, I think it will be an easier way to blog more often.
For those of you who have not read my last post, here it is:

One of the topics that comes up frequently is the subject of tight muscles. People tell me that it hurts when they stretch. Of course it does. When you stretch properly, you are microtearing muscle fibers, so that when they repair, they come back longer and stronger. A bodybuilder is not happy with his workout unless he is sore when he gets done. He has torn muscles fibers, and they will grow back stronger, and hopefully, shaped to the degree that he sculpts his physique.
Same with stretching. If you pursue it with great intensity, you are going to get sore. You may find muscles you did not know you have. You will find that those muscles you did not know you have, are the ones that cause you the most problems.
Now the rub. Sometimes, certain muscles are short. It can be congenital. Some people don’t have chronically tight hamstrings, they inherited them (quick, blame someone ;0). It does not mean those folks can’t stretch them out, it is going to take longer.

I once worked with a few kids that had short muscles. A young woman had EXTREMELY tight hamstrings from cerebral palsy. She just could not bend forward. I would stand behind her with my leg, and just to hold her up. Over a few months, she could barely reach forward, there was restriction, but no pain. When the muscle started to elongate, she felt pain. She hated it. But she was happy she could do it. After six months, she could grab her foot. She went from having shorter muscles, to having tight muscles. The short muscle phase did not hurt when she stretched. She just could not do it (in this case, reach her toes with her leg stretched out in front of her). When it began to lengthen, she felt the pain of tight muscles. She stretched until she experienced what I like to call “Happy Freedom”, the place where her body no longer was a hinderance to her movement.
Food for thought while you are stretching, eh?

5 comments:

Joe said...

Congrats on the new blog. I went to school for web design, but would never take the time to update my old web site because it was a hassle. I've had my blog now for a couple years and I love it. It's just so easy to update. I mainly like mine as a place to share my ride photos.

cheers..
Joe

Bloggo said...

Mark, This blog is a welcome thing indeed. The stretch you show on your home page masthead is one of my favorites. A blog format is perfect for me because I can use RSS to get updates. I look forward to learning more about stretching (and some new stretches) on your blog.

-Perry from the BOB list

howtostretch said...

Thanks for your encouragement. I have big plans for the site this year (not only new stretches, but also videos on how to practice them, that can be watched online).
Fun stuff, I just needed to get more involved/

Jay Bazuzi said...

Mark, I wonder if you could give some advice on how to stretch hamstrings when they are very short?

Mine are so short that I can't sit on the floor without working hard to hold myself up, and only then by bending at my lower back.

I've tried putting my legs up the wall, but the low angle I can reach puts a lot of strain on my knees.

I'm looking for techniques to stretch the short hams without stretching my lower back.

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