Why Is Stretching So Important?

Flexibility and mobility are aspects of training that can often be neglected. Being flexible has a lot of benefits, especially for combat athletes. It is best to begin by understanding what happens when you stretch.

There are three key points that peopleassumeare responsible for increasing the Range of Motion (ROM) in a joint by stretching:

Viscoelasticity:Simply said, the more elastic a muscle is, the more and further you can stretch it.

Neural stretch tolerance:The more you stretch, the more your nervous system will allow you to stretch further.

Muscle length:The more and further you stretch, the longer a muscle will become. The longer the muscle, thus a bigger ROM can be achieved.

But are they right? Points 1 and 3 are often misconceived. You can’t increase the length of a muscle. You can increase the length of the muscle fascicle slightly, but that’s it.

What actually happens when you stretch?

Video credits: Natural Solutions

Viscoelasticity: The viscoelasticity remains the same, even after a lot of daily stretching and stretching during the cooling down of sports like gymnastics.

Neural stretch tolerance: This will increase by stretching on a regular basis, so you can stay more flexible if you keep doing it. But if you stop stretching you need to get the tolerance/pain level back to where it was before you get to a certain flexibility level again.

Muscle length: Your muscle length stays the same. Like said above, your nervous system will allow you to stretch further due to the increase of your pain/neural stretch tolerance.

What are some stretching guidelines?

You don’t want to static stretch before a weightlifting session, why? By static stretching you relax a muscle, decrease power output and decrease muscle activation. Something that you don’t want before trying to lift heavy weights.

The benefits of stretching?

Static stretching specifically before combat sports can improve mobility and flexibility. If you want to throw better high kicks, you need to have good flexibility, so stretching specifically for that will help. A good way to integrate stretching is doing it after waking up. This way it will improve your posture, improve blood circulation (so it can help/aid with recovery), improve your range of motion in the joints, improve your posture and decrease lower back stiffness and pain. And it will only take up about 10 minutes of your time!

Read: https://engageind.com/blogs/articles/training-too-often-without-proper-recovery

Also, short static stretching of your hips, glutes, calves, hamstrings and quadriceps before practising combat sports will improve your mobility to throw better kicks. Same goes for upper-body stretching and striking.

I hope that with this article I gave you good insight about stretching. If you have any questions or feedback about this article or if you have any other questions about training, nutrition, mindset and lifestyle, feel free to send me a message!

Bart de Winter
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dewinterbart
Owner DEWINTER Personal Training
Licensed Personal Trainer & Lifestyle coach.

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