To Evolution

Stretching after the exercise is not really doing what you think you're doing

    Abdulaziz Sobh
    By Abdulaziz Sobh

    Categories: Beauty & Fitness, Health

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    There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the value or lack of muscle stretch to accelerate recovery after exercise. "Stretching clears lactic acid" and other similar claims abound. Are some of this true?

    More or less

    First, it is important to understand the difference between stretching for recovery and stretching for remodeling.

    During exercise, the muscles are required to work. During this work, fuel is consumed, waste products are created and the structure of the muscle fiber is interrupted by multiple microtears. Imagine a banquet, to compare, during which food is eaten, garbage accumulates (napkins, chicken bones, etc.) and the configuration of the table is interrupted. Before the next banquet, the food must be restocked, the garbage cleaned and the tables restarted.

    For muscles, this process of restarting for the next event is called recovery. The muscle returns to full function without pain.

    This is not the process that leads to body change per se, but it is important for athletes who want to compete at their highest level several times during a short period.

    The athletes have tried many things to accelerate the recovery: cryotherapy, massage, compression, immersion in ice water, stretching, hyperbaric oxygen, anti-inflammatory, and electrostimulation, just to name a few. These interventions aim to decrease lactic acid, inflammatory markers and other molecules that accumulate after intense exercise.

    Of these, only messages are consistently effective. Multiple studies have shown that stretching does not significantly help in the removal of waste or serves in any capacity to accelerate muscle recovery.

    Most of us are not training for professional competitions, but we are exercising to be healthy, lose weight and improve our mood.

    For that, we must focus on the response of remodeling our body to exercise, which is not the same as the recovery of exercise.

    In simple words, when we exercise consistently, our bodies adapt to that stressor by changing our muscle structure, metabolism, and physiology. It is that change, that remodeling, that leads to all the positive benefits of exercise. To continue with our banquet example, if we realized that 500 people will be present at each event, but we only have 10 tables established at this time, we would change our capacity to be ready for the next event. We would increase efficiency in the kitchen and establish more tables. Also, our body is remodeled to adapt to the growing exercise.

    Many studies have also been conducted to determine how to optimize the body's remodeling response to exercise. After more than 35 years of study, six variables emerge that consistently help the body in its effort to reorganize itself in response to exercise: the moment of nutritional intake (specifically protein), type of exercise, massage, sleep, creatine in low dose and you guessed stretching.

    Perhaps the best known and most accepted benefits of muscle stretching exercises are an improved or maintained range of motion, or both; alignment of bones and joints; and strengthening of connective tissues, all elements that optimize performance. Many studies have shown that flexibility training (dedicated attention to muscle stretch over time as part of an exercise program) directly improves muscle function and ultrasound images have documented favorable alterations in muscle architecture after weeks of regular stretching, as longer fibers. In addition, a recent study has clearly shown that stretching over time improves blood flow to muscles during later exercise in animals.

    The previous negative comment about muscle stretching can be deceptive to the casual observer. It is true that studies have shown that static stretching routines (reaching, waiting for 30 seconds, throwing, next stretching) before a workout or competition lead to a decrease in strength during that event and that stretching before activity It does not prevent injuries, like the long though. But these are very specific circumstances that do not apply to most people.

    Am I stretched or not?
    If you are an elite athlete trying to reduce injuries, increase strength or accelerate muscle recovery just before the next event, then no.

    If you are the majority of people, exercising to lose weight, be well and improve the mood, then yes. It will help with muscle remodeling, connective tissue strengthening, the range of motion improvement, joint alignment, and potential blood flow during later exercise, all beneficial effects in the long term.