10/25/2003 1:53pm, #1
Your stretching questions answered! (Good link.)
Well, maybe I hope. I haven't read all of it.
www.stadion.com if you haven't see it yet.
10/26/2003 7:29pm, #2
- Join Date
- Oct 2002
- Dallas, Texas
How long does it take before you start seeing big increases in your flexibility.
I was seriously thinking about doing something like this since my flexibility sucks ass.I'll make one when I can find one I like.
10/28/2003 10:04am, #3
Big increases? That depends on you.
That article lists the factors limiting your potential flexibility...
Factors Limiting Flexibility
1.the type of joint (some joints simply aren't meant to be flexible)
2.the internal resistance within a joint
3.bony structures which limit movement
4.the elasticity of muscle tissue (muscle tissue that is scarred
due to a previous injury is not very elastic)
5.the elasticity of tendons and ligaments (ligaments do not
stretch much and tendons should not stretch at all)
6.the elasticity of skin (skin actually has some degree of elasticity, but not much)
7.the ability of a muscle to relax and contract to achieve the greatest range of movement
#6 sounds completely counter-intuitive. If skin weren't elastic, then why don't obese people split at the seams?
Here's a flexilibity related segment from an article bashing Pilates.
Muscles Cannot Be Elongated
Almost every article or comment I encounter regarding Pilates mentions its effectiveness to elongate muscles. This is biologically impossible.
One source of confusion here is the terminology. Muscle produces force that is required for us to move. For movement, the muscle supplies force over a linear range. As a muscle contracts, growing shorter, the ends of the muscle and its attachments, are drawn closer to each other. And as the muscle relaxes, it uncontracts permitting the attachments to increase their distance from each other. This uncontraction is often stated as muscle lengthening.
The pseudoscience of body culture often refers to the notion of elongation. This is similar to lengthening, but is descriptive of a more permanent quality rather than the muscle’s lengthening function. The belief is that muscles can be trained in such a way as to cause them to appear longer and sleeker, and thus transform the physique of an individual to a more slender form. This is a fable and has several inconsistencies associated with it.
Every individual is endowed with relatively short, medium, or long muscle bellies. Limited ultimately by the distance between the associated bony attachments (insertion and origin), a muscle’s entire length is made up of only the two parts: the tendon length and muscle-belly length.
If the muscle-belly length—that part actually comprising the contractile fibers—occupies a majority of the muscle length, then the tendon length must be a minority. And if the tendon length is the majority length, then the belly length is the minority.
Also, note that the longer the relative belly length, the greater potential mass of the muscle. Extremely long muscle bellies make possible, and are a prerequisite for, the huge muscles found only on the largest body builders. This would not be the appearance most Pilates subjects envision from developing so-called “long muscles,” even if they could.
The Pilates people have really put their proverbial foot in their mouths on this one. Their handouts advertise that their program does not build bulk, although they claim elsewhere to lengthen (elongate) the muscles. If by this they mean to lengthen the muscle bellies—an impossibility—then this would potentiate the large muscles they advertise against. If by this they mean to lengthen the entire muscle (musculo-tendinous unit)—also an impossibility—then the muscle would be too long for its associated body part and tend to gather slack, hang off the body and be dysfunctional.
As a matter of fact, it is impossible to alter the length of your muscles in a practical way. It is possible, through surgery or injury, to wind up with a shorter muscle, having less than what you were endowed with, but not more.
In summary, a muscle’s overall relative length is genetically dictated as a relationship between the length of the muscle and the distance between its attachments on either end. This is not practically altered. It is certainly not changed through any activity or even proper exercise. The relative muscle-belly length is the relative length of the contractile segment and the tendon segment. It is also genetically dictated and not alterable through exercise.
More Regarding Muscle Lengthening and Stretching
Histology (the anatomical study of the microscopic structure of animal and plant tissues) professors and the orthopedic physicians that Ken Hutchins has worked with have emphasized that tendons have very little elastic property. They are very static and not subject to being stretched.
In comparison, the contractile part in the belly region of a muscle is extremely elastic. Reflecting on this, it only makes sense that the more you can contract something, the more you can stretch it. In essence, you should be able to increase its length—stretch—by the same amount you can shorten it through contraction.
Knowing the properties of these tissues begs the question of just what is being stretched when you stretch a body part. Well, we know we do not stretch tendons and hopefully not ligaments. We can only meaningfully stretch muscle bellies.
Also, from the previous section, we noted that the length of a muscle belly potentiates the ultimate size of the muscle. Not only is muscular size at stake here but also flexibility. The longer the muscle belly, the greater the potential for stretch; i.e., flexibility.
Reflecting back on this are stories of hugely muscular men: John Grimek and Casey Viator. These two men—and a few others like them—are freaks of nature. They were so massive at their Mr. America events that they dwarfed other very muscular men. Of several impacts on the viewer’s mind was that they were bulky and inflexible. But this later proved to be an optical deception. Grimek is known to have ended his 1940 Mr. America posing routine by landing in a full split and then standing to bow to the audience by placing his elbows on the floor with his knees straight.
In 1971, Casey Viator became the youngest man to ever win Mr. America, also winning more of the Best Awards than anyone before. I have a picture of Casey jumping off the ground—the picture caught him in midair, touching his toes with straightened knees.
I believe that Arthur Jones would have stated that Viator and Grimek “were not extremely flexible in spite of their great muscularity but because of it.”
So back to our poignant question: What is being stretched? Obviously, both Casey and Grimek possessed a tremendous potential for stretch due to their long muscle bellies. This inherited—not acquired—attribute not only potentiates massive muscular size but also a tremendous elastic component.
Flexibility is limited by several factors: bony delimitations, any present arthritic conditions, muscle belly length (elastic potential), fatness, as well as the ligamentous and/or capsular integrity. Whichever of these is encountered first during stretch is that entity that sets the momentary limit of flexibility. If that entity is muscular, and more elastic potential exists, then flexibility can be legitimately increased. If not, or the other nonelastic components are the limiting entity, then flexibility will be gained only by damaging the joint’s structural integrity. The only exception might be that of fatness. If fatness can be appreciably reduced, then more flexibility might be legitimately gained.
3/08/2005 2:35pm, #4
Just seeing this now, good article.