Approaching the scientific stretching
Approaching the scientific stretching
According to physiotherapist Michael Leslie in the Yoga Journal, 'The PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) is the closest we have come to scientific stretching'.
In its origins, the PNF emerged in the United States as a therapeutic method for muscle rehabilitation after bumps or accidents. Over time he adapted to the world of sports and is currently part of the training routine of many high level athletes. At the same time it remains the most recommended method for those who simply need, for restorative reasons, to release muscle stress.
It has been demonstrated through several studies that PNF is the stretching technique that provides greater benefits and gains flexibility in a shorter period of time than any other stretching practice.
In addition to the mentioned benefits, such as achieving a remarkable improvement in our elasticity, stretching regularly, particularly through PNF, we can achieve greater tolerance to physical and mental stress, a greater speed of muscle recovery after exercising, promote formation of a long building muscles and even improve our strength and power.
In La Tejana we are aware of all the benefits that this practice can bring to our muscles and joints. In our weekly planning we echo by doing a stretching workshop at the end of the week.
The classic exercises of PNF are usually divided into 3 phases: guided stretching, isometric stretching and new guided stretching, although this time in order to overcome the motor barrier of the joints.
Depending on how used to stretch the members of the group may be, we usually add one more phase to the exercise. In this case it is a movement prior to the classic exercise: a static stretch alone whose sole purpose is to warm up a bit and increase the proprioception of the muscle or muscle group to work.
In our yoga retreat the stretching workshop we do after a nature walk, of approximately 2 hours, although of slight intensity. This serves as a warm-up, since after physical exercise increases blood flow and with it the oxygen and nutrients in our muscles and tendons, thus generating an increase in the range of mobility of our joints.
Just before starting the workshop, I always like to make clear 4 mandatory standards to make the experience optimal:
- Stretching should always be smooth, stable, controlled and from a correct posture.
- When we stretch we must simply feel tension, never pain, punctures or burning.
- You have to establish a word or expression that tells our partner that we have reached our limit and must stop or loosen the movement, for example, 'is enough' ...
- The breathing must be slow and deep. Preferably we will expire while doing the stretching exercise to release the rib cage and the spine.
Once we are ready to start the practice, everyone is with the couple they have chosen to do the workshop and a relaxing music sounds, we begin to perform the stretching exercise in 4 phases:
1 - Static stretch without help: The person who stretches will do the movement by himself, without help, and will maintain the posture approximately 30 seconds.
2 - Guided stretch: Now the facilitator will help to make the movement smoothly and reaching the motor limit of the joint. We will hold the position for 20 seconds.
3 - Isometric Stretching: Without returning to the starting position, the person who stretches exerts a force in the opposite direction to the movement that his facilitator is making. It should be noted that, to avoid injury, the facilitator should not force the joint, simply offer the same resistance that a wall would offer. This phase should never exceed 15 seconds in duration.
4 - Guided Stretching: After relieving the tension and rest muscles and joints for 3-5 seconds (without returning to the initial position), this time the facilitator will again perform the stretching movement gently and reaching the motor limit that the joint allows at this time, which a priori should be greater than before the isometric stretch. At this point we will hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
If we want to increase the effectiveness of the stretch, we must repeat the exercise 3 times starting from phase 2 and leaving a rest of 30 seconds between repetitions.
Taking into account that isometric stretching can only be performed on large muscles, we will perform these exercises in the following order: Isquiotibial (including twins), gluteus (including lumbar), quadriceps (including psoas iliacus), dorsal and pectorals.
Once we finish our stretching workshop, the sensations after the session are always very positive. Normally, in the return to calm, when we release muscles and joints, we have the feeling of having received a deep sports massage, those that crush you but relax you.
In general, the release of both physical and mental stress in only one session means that all those who practice it want to repeat.
* This type of stretching is not recommended for children under 13 and people with weak muscles. You have to be especially careful and only work with professionals if there are injuries to muscles and joints. Always allow at least 48 hours to pass between sessions.
By Saulo Amado