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Status:Closed    Asked:Oct 28, 2013 - 09:48 AM

Does stretching a muscle for longer than 30-45 secs increase flexibility or would it increase flexibility faster?

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Stretching for a longer than thirty seconds can increase the length of muscle tissue in the short-term by causing it to relax. The tension from the stretching sends signals to the Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO) which at first cause a muscle to contract for protection, but then once the central nervous system (CNS) determines the lengthening is not a danger the GTO will send a signal to allow the muscle to lengthen. This is why most people feel a release after holding a stretch for thirty seconds or longer, it takes about that long for the reaction to happen which allows the tissue to lengthen.

Stretching for an extended period of time such as 3 minutes will cause a muscle to relax allowing it to lengthen but is not recommended prior to activity. Repeatedly holding stretches for 3 min or longer can change the elastic properties of the muscles if done over a period of time of days or weeks. The constant tension and lengthening will provide mechanical feedback via the CNS which will ultimately cause the muscle to create new sarcomeres to provide the needed length for the extended position.

There’s a potential problem with that: too much extensibility (ability to stretch) in the muscle tissue can lead to joint instability. Some muscle tension helps maintain the structure and function of a joint. However too much muscle tension (tight muscles) can change bone position and ultimately change the way the joint functions. Likewise constant stretching which increases muscle length and changes the mechanical structure of the affected muscle can lead to instability of the involved joint.

Muscle tissue, especially the fascia which surrounds fibers and connects muscle to bone, is elastic. When elastic fascia allows proper joint range-of-motion (ROM) it can be rapidly stretched to produce an explosive muscle contraction, typically called plyometrics, the additional power is from the tension caused by the fascia and connective tissue and not the muscle fibers. If a muscle is constantly stretched beyond it's normal resting length it creates deformation and changes the ability to rapidly lengthen and shorten for explosive movements.


Oct 31, 2013 - 01:32 PM

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