1. Muscles do one
thing, and one thing only: contract. That is how they work. All
muscles cross over at least one joint, (sometimes two) and the action
of contracting a muscle causes that joint to move. Here's a good
example: Your quadricep (thigh) muscle originates from the front
of your hip (the anterior superior iliac spine, for the technically
curious). It crosses over your knee joint, and inserts (as a tendon,
since tendons are how muscles attach to bone), to your shin bone
(tibia). The action of contracting your quadricep muscle lifts your
leg, and moves your lower leg forward, as it straightens your knee.
2. Muscles are the motors of your body. All action is due to their
contraction. They can do more work if they have greater contractile
strength. Contractile strength is greater when the muscles are longer.
In other words, the longer the muscle, the more work it can do when
acting on a joint. Stretched muscles are longer muscles.
3. Stretching allows greater extension of a joint when moving. For
example, if you are a runner, if you stretch prior to running, your
stride will be longer. If the stride remains the same length, then
the involved muscles will be doing less work.
4. Stretching helps prevent injuries. The more flexible a person
is, the less the likelihood of a torn or strained muscle. Over time,
proper stretching strengthens both ligaments and tendons. Ligaments
attach bone to bone, tendons attach muscles to bone. When you stretch
properly, you are microtearing the fibers of your muscles, tendons,
and ligaments. When you rest, your body repairs those tears, and
you are left with longer, stronger, more resilient muscles, tendons,
5. Stretching promotes faster recovery. Stretching the muscles helps
to move the toxins and waste products of muscular exertion out of
the muscles and into the bloodstream, where they can be broken down
6. Stretching relaxes your body. Relaxing your body allows you to
experience less intense negative emotional states.
7. Muscles that are tight waste energy. Stretching allows you to
become aware of areas in your body that are held with undue tension,
so you can release those areas.
8. Stretching feels GOOD!!! Anyone, at any age,
can stretch. It does not matter where your flexibility level is
when you begin, as long as you work at it you will improve.
is possible to injure onself in any physical activity. Consult
your physician if in doubt about your physical condition
before embarking on a stretching program. The author of
howtostretch.com accepts no liability for any injuries sustained
while practicing any of the stretches described within.