Tuesday, September 21, 2010

And hold for 1, 2, 3, 4....

You've heard the advice over and over... to get a "good stretch" you need to hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Do you? Does anybody? You can do a little test now, if you're willing. Read the instructions for doing this Chest Stretch and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Go ahead! I'll stretch too and meet you back here....


If you stretch a muscle too far or too quickly, the body has a built in protective response in your muscle spindle. The GTO, or Gogli tendon organ, is located at the ends of your tendons, where the muscle fiber attaches to bone. By monitoring tendon length, the GTO protects your muscles by causing it to relax when the muscle develops too much tension, or when the muscle tension changes too quickly. The muscle spindle and GTO are the reason you need to hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds. The GTO needs enough time to override the muscle spindle and allow your muscle to stretch.

Stretching is very good for our bodies. It increases our flexibility, improves our range of motion, improves circulation and reduces stress. In our fast paced world, it can be very relaxing to take a mini-break and devote a few minutes of each day to stretching.

If you did the chest stretch with me, and, if you actually held the stretch for 30 seconds, you now realize how very long 30 seconds can seem. A full body stretch while holding each stretch for 30 seconds may require 10 to 15 minutes of your time. And, it is time invested well. If you don't have time in one sitting, break it up into two or three segments in your day.

If you can only find 30 minutes in your day to get some exercise, walk for 15 minutes and stretch for 15 minutes. Your body will be happier for it.

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