Sometimes people pit static stretching
and active stretching against each other,
like one could be better than the other. Do you know what I'm talking about?
"I'm active isolated stretching certified." "I do static stretching." "Static
stretching sucks, because I do active stretching." "Really?" "Yeah." "I do dynamic
stretching, dynamic stretching is the best, everybody knows dynamic stretching is the
best and the other two suck, you don't need active stretching." They all do different things!
You are comparing apples to oranges, stop it. As long as they fly on the continuum of
intensity and speed. So, static stretching. We only use static stretching
to lengthen a muscle that has adaptively shortened. So, even if a muscle is
overactive but not short, we wouldn't use static stretching. It's all about
lengthening the fascial network around a muscle. Are you familiar with endomecium,
paramecium, all of that stuff?
So that's the fascial network around a muscle. What static stretching does is
you pull a muscle into a stretch position, and when you first pull a
muscle into a stretch position does that muscle become more active or less
active? More active, right? You can feel the tension build up in your muscle
a little bit when you stretch it. And the reason that's happening is what? The
muscle spindle gets triggered, that sends a signal back to your CNS, your central nervous
system in your spinal cord, and that signal goes right back out and tells
that muscle to start contracting again. It's almost like a protective mechanism
to keep you from ripping your muscles in half. Alright,
so the first thing you do when you pull a muscle into stretch is activate that
muscle spindle. Now, tension builds up, and providing it's only a small amount of
tension, and not a huge amount of tension,
that tension starts stimulating somebody else:
the Golgi tendon organ. The Golgi tendon organ are tension receptors. So muscle spindles
are stretch receptors, gogli tendon are tension receptors. Now, as the tension builds up,
but not in a way that we feel unsafe, and those GTOs are getting stimulated,
they send their signal through the CNS, and what does their signal do? It inhibits. It shuts
down. That is what autogenic inhibition is. Are you with me? So autogenic
inhibition is what the GTO does. So we get a little bit of muscle spindle
activity, and then GTO overrides it, and the muscle calms back down. Once the muscle
calms back down, now we can actually stretch the fascia around the muscle. Initially we can't.
You pull on the muscle, the muscle is just pulling back. That's it. All
you're doing is pulling against muscle until you get that release. Once that release
happens, you stretch out that fascial network. The pressure on that fascial
network hopefully causes an adaptive process to start, and that adaptive
process lays down new fascia, kind of, and lengthens the muscle out.
Now, active stretching doesn't do that. Active stretching we use as a
progression. Now we've gotten the muscle back to its original length, so we start
working on contracting the functional antagonist. So if I'm stretching my hip
flexors, I'm going to start contracting my glutes to help increase the strength
of my glute max in this new range of motion I didn't have before. Because if my
glute max hadn't even been getting there, is it going to be stronger?
No, strength is somewhat range of motion specific. So I strengthen my glute max as
well as start returning optimal reciprocal inhibition. Remember, it was
altered before. These were really overactive, shutting this down. I'm
contracting this, and shutting these down, that starts reversing the process.
Are you with me? The static stretching lengthens, active stretching helps return
strength and reciprocal inhibition.