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Can someone explain to me what lengthening your muscles really means? When people advocating stretching exercises or yoga/pilates to "lengthen your muscles," what exactly is supposed to happen with my muscles?

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I think they must mean something to do with how flexable you are because there is no way you can phisically actually lengthen your muscles ... they are attached to your bone haha ... You can't very well take them off make them longer and re-attach them somewhere higher up ..

i figure your muscles are just as long as your bones and they are always gonna stay that way, so the only thing i can think of that they mean is that 'lengthing' just helps with their ability to stretch therefore increasing your range of movement and flexability ... but thats just a guess i might be wrong.

 

I think they probably mean to create lean muscles (like a dancer's body) versus bulky muscles (like a football player's body).

That makes even less sense, because a dancers muscles are just smaller than a football player's muscles.  Mostly because you are looking at female dancers when you say this, the men get pretty bulky.  The female dancers are less bulky because the are women and usually very thin.

But you are probably right Slicy

Description

This article is from the Stretching FAQ, by Brad Appleton Brad_Appleton@ivhs.mot.com with numerous contributions by others.

 

1.6.3 - The Lengthening Reaction (Stretching)

When muscles contract (possibly due to the stretch reflex), they produce
tension at the point where the muscle is connected to the tendon, where the
golgi tendon organ is located. The golgi tendon organ records the change in
tension, and the rate of change of the tension, and sends signals to the
spine to convey this information (See "1.6.1 - Proprioceptors"). When this
tension exceeds a certain threshold, it triggers the "lengthening reaction"
which inhibits the muscles from contracting and causes them to relax.
Other names for this reflex are the "inverse myotatic reflex", "autogenic
inhibition", and the "clasped-knife reflex". This basic function of the
golgi tendon organ helps to protect the muscles, tendons, and ligaments
from injury. The lengthening reaction is possible only because the
signaling of golgi tendon organ to the spinal cord is powerful enough to
overcome the signaling of the muscle spindles telling the muscle to
contract.

Another reason for holding a stretch for a prolonged period of time is to
allow this lengthening reaction to occur, thus helping the stretched
muscles to relax. It is easier to stretch, or lengthen, a muscle when it is
not trying to contract.

Original Post by slicey:

I think they probably mean to create lean muscles (like a dancer's body) versus bulky muscles (like a football player's body).

Are you being funny or are you unaware that this phrase is the running gag catch phrase that encompasses all fitness myths, and is very amusing to boot.

Original Post by spirochete:

Original Post by slicey:

I think they probably mean to create lean muscles (like a dancer's body) versus bulky muscles (like a football player's body).

Are you being funny or are you unaware that this phrase is the running gag catch phrase that encompasses all fitness myths, and is very amusing to boot.

 I can excuse some people for this kind of comment, but it's sad when you still hear personal trainers say the same thing!

I remember being told I should stick to the Peck Dec instead of bench pressing as it woud give me leaner sexier muscles! This was from a PT!

Muscle does two things, it contracts and it elongates or "lengthens".  Muscles that are contracted under load become resistant to elongation by involuntarily remaining partially contracted.  In other words the more you contract your muscles the less willing they are to elongate fully; especially in the complex joints of the shoulders and hips.  Often the more your try to elongate the muscle the stronger the involuntary contraction becomes making it impossible to elongate the muscle fully. Certain exercises apply gentle force to the muscles to overcome these involuntary contractions thus allowing the muscle to more fully elongate.  This gives you better range of motion and often will eliminate pain.  So when someone says that "stretching lengthens muscles" what they means is that stretching allows you to fully elongate your muscles.  But strentching does not make muscles longer.

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