Fitness: Stretching – The Magic Bullet?

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What if I told you I knew a way you could increase your annual salary by 30 percent? Perhaps you’d be more interested if I told you I could make your food 30 percent more satisfying. Maybe I’d have your attention if I could convince you that the same strength-training routine you’ve been doing for years could be 30 percent more efficient.

Well, if you know the undisclosed weapon for achieving the first two, go ahead and send that tidbit of invaluable information my way, while I let you in on the secret to locking down the third. It’s a little thing I like to call stretching.

Not just for increasing flexibility anymore, stretching after each set done for a particular muscle group can lead to increased strength gains on the size of said muscle group, as well as boost growth abilities. But let’s face it…we think about stretching as we’re speeding through our workout about as much as we pause to think about flossing every morning – a nice touch, but only if we have time.

Studies suggest that fascial stretching – a slightly more intense form of stretching – added during rest periods between sets (not even adding time to your normal routine) can amp up muscular strength and size.

According to Nick Nilsson, President of an online exercise, fitness, and personal training company called BetterU, Inc, explains how stretching is the solution to avoiding plateaus in muscular strength and development.

“Every muscle in your body is enclosed in a bag of tough connective tissue known as fascia. Fascia is important for holding your muscles in their proper place in your body.
Because fascia is so tough, it doesn’t allow the muscle room to expand. It is like stuffing a large pillow into a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won’t change regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat because the connective tissue around your muscles is constricting the muscles within.”

Nilsson suggests holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds after each set, which also meets American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines. He also stresses the importance of stretching following strength training, while the muscle is “pumped up,” or showered with increased blood flow.

The fitness staff at Green Mountain at Fox Run leads women through stretches before, during, and after each activity, thus preventing them from being tired, sore, and achy the next day…not to mention super-charging the efficiency of each workout by creating possible strength gains.

According to Lynnann Covell, an 18-year fitness staff veteran at Green Mountain, a number of women verbally express improvements in flexibility, strength, and stamina by day three – even participants with arthritis. I don’t know about you, but those effects coupled with the idea that more muscle means greater calorie-burning capabilities has me sold. Enjoy your day – I’m off to stretch!

 Fascial stretching video

Author: Meredith Beckman – Fitness Specialist/Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator, Green Mountain at Fox Run


5 responses to “Fitness: Stretching – The Magic Bullet?”

  1. Stretching is sorely (haha) over looked. Im guilty of it, too.

    can you make the day 30 percent longer? I’d like that…

    Kelly Turner
    http://www.groundedfitness.com

  2. Ray Salomone says:

    While I agree that stretching is very important, some people use it as a crutch and devote too much time to it when they should be doing short bursts of intense exercise.

    Ray Salomone
    The Wellness Crusader

  3. los angeles extreme makeover says:

    This is simply brilliant! I didn’t know this is how it works now. Very informative post.

    -Alexis

  4. Jeff says:

    In your article on Fitness Stretching – the Magic Bullet, you state “Studies suggest that fascial stretching – a slightly more intense form of stretching – added during rest periods between sets (not even adding time to your normal routine) can amp up muscular strength and size.” Can you cite these studies and who did them? I have not seen any research that proves that Fascial Stretching works. However, there appears to be a lot of expert opinions (Parrillo, Niilson) and antedotal stories that fascial stretching helps to increase muscle size. I believe that the concept and practive of Fascial Stretching would be far more compelling if there was actual proven science, not theory, to back it up. I’d appreciate seeing these studies. Thank you.

  5. Valerie Westcott says:

    The stretching does make a difference. After leaving Fox Run I was diligent, then fell behind after a series of health issues. I’ve had a recent set back and all I can do right now is stretch, and today I woke up with literally no pain, and I could walk. What a nice difference.

    I also used the exercise ball for some tightening, and check my range of motion as I can’t get down on the floor. I forget what a difference it can make – and I’m sleeping more than 2 hours at a time!

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