Les étirements pour la musculation

Stretching for bodybuilding

Stretching: Anatomical structures, the three main groups of stretching, their effects and uses in bodybuilding, and how to build a stretch.

After the warm-up, we move on to another “part” of the workout that is more than ignored, which is clearly stretching.

They are dressed in every possible virtue – from better recovery to injury prevention, more strength …

In this article, we will see the theoretical foundations required to understand and practice stretching before exploring its practical applications.

The flexibility of muscles and joints is regulated by several factors. We can define flexibility as the ability to perform movements with the greatest possible amplitude without having to force that amplitude.

Structures involved

The first limiting factor is the muscle itself, with its contractile components, which are myofibrils with myosin and actin (bridges), as well as its elastic components (series and parallels: CES and CEP) such as titin.

Depending on the function of the muscle, whether it is intended as a stabilizer (supportive muscle) or is used only during training, the concentration of slow and fast fibers will not be the same.

Thus, a higher proportion of slow fibers causes a higher concentration of collagen, which makes the muscle less deformable and then less able to transmit force (see below: stiffness matching).

Also note that by stretching, softening, the muscle adjusts to its new length. The tension-to-length ratio we studied turned out to be changed. Our muscles adapt, organize themselves depending on the length at which we work with them regularly.

In addition to muscle, connective tissue is one of these limiting factors. These are, for example, tendons, ligaments, muscular sheaths (what is sometimes called fascia, like epimisium) … Note that the difference between a tendon and a ligament is partly in the orientation of the collagen fibers.

While the collagen fibers of the tendon are parallel, the fibers of the ligament are located in all directions, such as parallel, oblique or spiral. This collagen orientation explains the difference in function between ligament and tendon. While the ligament is used to hold the joint in place, the tendon is also used to transfer force from bones to muscles (elastic energy).

Note that collagen increases before age 20 and begins to decrease by 1% per year from age 30, which explains the loss of flexibility that occurs when stretching and softening is not practiced.

Finally, the nervous system also regulates our flexibility.

First, by the myotatic reflex. Located parallel in the muscle, the neuromuscular spindle (FNM) provides information to the nervous system about the length of the muscle, as well as the speed at which it is stretched and the amplitude at which it is stretched. Thus, if you stretch too quickly, the nervous system triggers a reflexive muscle contraction.

The information that FNM provides to the nervous system allows regulation of the so-called reflex inhibition, which performs the function of relaxing and relaxing the antagonistic muscles. Let’s take a simple example:

If you curl up and start, chances are your triceps will contract at the same time, causing a parasitic contraction that will impede your movement and rob you of some of your “real” strength. Over time, your triceps will relax, because the contraction of the biceps through the information that the nervous system receives from the FNM will trigger the mutual inhibition reflex.

The Golgi Tendon Organ (OTG), as its name suggests, is located in the tendon. It gives information about muscle tension, the force with which it contracts. It is an FNM antagonist and serves to deactivate the myotatic reflex and therefore allows us to go further in stretching. We will see the practical application of these observations below.

We can finally mark this part on the nervous system, muscle tone. This is the minimum muscle contraction at rest. This is regulated by the FNM (again), but also by so-called higher nerve centers such as the cortex. FNM does not see sensitivity changes regardless of muscle length (stretched or not). Hence, this is a residual muscle contraction, so, for example, you can stand effortlessly without thinking about it.

Different segments

Since there are several exercises similar to bodybuilding exercises, it is helpful to see the most popular stretches before explaining them. First, we need to distinguish between a few commonly used terms.

Stretching is a generic term. These include stretching the muscles as well as stretching the connective tissue, more commonly referred to as stretching.

We sometimes talk about weakness when it comes to sprains. In this regard, be careful not to stretch the ligaments, because excessive flexibility here will make the joint unstable, injuring faster.

We can distinguish three main groups of segments:

  • Static stretching

These are classic segments, more or less long, from 10 to 60 seconds. There are two categories: passive and active. They differ in their nervous structure.

Active stretching is a stretch that plays on the mutual inhibition reflex Then the question arises of contracting the antagonistic muscle to the stretched muscle in order to make it relax and be able to go further in the stretch.

While strictly passive stretching involves using the reverse myotatic reflex to relax the muscle being stretched.

In any case, the stretching will need to be copied as you exhale to reduce muscle tone. So it’s a matter of breathing to relax during these stretches.

It is also important to stretch slowly to avoid engaging the myotatic reflex.

Also note that the muscle is considered viscoelastic. In simple terms, this means that it reacts as if it were composed of a viscous liquid and an elastic band. This behavior is influenced by temperature, load and stretching rate. So this is another reason to stretch smoothly.

  • Ballistic lines

These are the sites we don’t often know about. Remember the heels on the buttocks that you did in sports in school. It was ballistic tension, that is, with speed, in jerks.

Thus, plyometrics can be classified as ballistic stretching. These are relatively dangerous areas and should be done with caution.

PNF stands for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Relief, in French Simplified Proprioceptive Neuromuscular.

Proprioception is the perception of the body in space. That is, you know where your hand is in space, and you do not need to look at it, for example. This is proprioception. And this is possible thanks to the nerve receptors involved in the control of perception (whether you pay attention to it or not).

There are two main PNF sites:

Compressed-Relaxed (CR): This consists of performing a maximum isometric contraction in a stretched position and then waiting for a few seconds before stretching the muscle. CR interferes with the Golgi tendon organ and therefore the reverse myotatic reflex, after which a strong muscle contraction occurs.

Contraction-release-contraction of the antagonist or CRAC: The only difference from the previous variant is the contraction of the antagonist of the muscle to be stretched after the OTG intervention. Due to the contraction of the antagonist, the mutual inhibition reflex also interferes and therefore allows one to advance a little further (amplitude).

As with static stretching, breath control is essential for successful PNF stretching. Thus, blocking breathing will increase the tension in the muscle during the contraction phase, and then exhaling slowly will help relax the muscle during the stretch phase.

In practice:

  • Muscle contraction block
  • Calm breathing (exhalation-inhalation cycle is sufficient) during the intermediate phase
  • Exhale slowly while stretching the muscle

Les étirements pour la musculation

Stretching effects

After looking at the different sites, we will see their effects. But before we get into the effects, there is an important point that will explain many of their effects. It’s about:

Muscle stiffness and elasticity are only measured scientifically, but may explain a few things.

Stiffness, such as the stiffness of your muscles. He is relaxed, soft, obedient. You shrink, it hardens, it is tough. From this observation, we can conclude that the muscle is more tense during exercise than at rest.

The same thing happens between series or after a session, there is always a residual tension of contraction, you all noticed it. Your muscles remain “firm” even in a relaxed position. It’s cooler than before the session and a few hours after the session. We will discuss this observation later.

It is also good to note that the stiffer a muscle, the more easily it transfers power due to the elastic components of the muscle. Conversely, the more malleable the muscle, the slower the transmission.

This is one of the main effects of training – strengthening the muscles so that they gain strength. You could even say that this is the desired effect. It’s no coincidence that powerlifters aren’t gymnasts.

Due to the difficulty of measuring muscle stiffness, sometimes stretching, the theoretical goal of which is to make muscles more compatible, also increases muscle stiffness.

This is due to what is called Tensile Tolerance. It is a kind of resistance to pain due to stretching, like learning pain, its limits for the training itself.

When you start, you don’t know your limits. At the slightest pain, we tell ourselves that we are complete. And gradually we find that we go further and further, because we endure pain better and better, because we know that we can go on without risk.

This is what is applied here to stretching under the term Tensile Tolerance, which therefore progresses from session to session at startup.

Now is the time to tackle the stretch effects. We will distinguish short-term effects from long-term ones.

  • Stretching and Warming Up

As we saw in the article on warming up, its purpose is primarily to increase the temperature of our muscles.

PNF and static stretching, compressing our muscles with a strong isometric contraction (in the stretched position), interfere with normal blood circulation. The blood vessels are then constricted.

To raise the temperature of a muscle, an alternation of contraction and relaxation is necessary, so ballistic stretching can be used if its amplitudes are not exaggerated compared to the amplitude of work that will be required.

This could be, for example, turning the shoulders before working on the upper body.

  • Stretch and strength (speed, strength)

As we said above, to be strong, explosive, fast, you need tough muscles. By stretching before the session, the stiffness decreases in both the muscles and connective tissue. The nervous system is also affected. Then we get a more compliant, overly compliant muscle that no longer returns the elastic energy as much as it could, and loss occurs.

This is a short-term effect.

Long-term effects vary. If you have no, no flexibility in performing your movements, it goes without saying that you will not be at your best (at the moment). Remember that your FNM is sensitive to muscle strain and your OTG is sensitive to muscle strain.

To be too tough is to trigger these defense mechanisms, these reflexes.

If you gain flexibility and it helps you do your movements more “freely”, then you will become stronger. You will be less “parasitic” by your nervous system, or even more free from your influx.

  • Stretching and Recovering

We are told that stretching accelerates recovery. What is it really?

Stretching can do two things between exercises:

After a series, your muscles may remain slightly contracted, stiff. If you stretch, your muscles weaken, circulation improves, or your muscles actually relax and become more pliable, and then lose strength in the next series.

It’s safe to say that PNF practice and static stretching are responsible for the second scenario. They can even add fatigue to the muscles due to the strain they put on the muscles.

Although ballistic stretches can restore normal circulation and thus give strength to the muscles for the next series.

So we’re talking about stretching right here. If you doubt that you will succeed, it is better to refrain.

After strength training, stretching will increase muscle damage. Read the three-part article on website pain. “Heavy” stretching or negative phase of movement is the first factor that causes microtrauma causing pain.

Static stretch, or PNF stretch, is nothing more than the final phase of negative repetition, where the stretch is most pronounced and therefore where the most damage is done.

Doing this after the session thus adds microtrauma and intensifies pain, slowing recovery.

This is a short-term effect.

But it can be good for evil, because if you get better, you will become stronger. You will destroy and restore more. But again, this is about nuances. You cannot recover and injure yourself by pulling too hard, as you have already “destroyed” your muscles.

Be careful.

Injury prevention is primarily about making a good selection of exercises, doing them at the correct amplitude for your flexibility.

Stretching before a session or during a session increases your stretch tolerance and contributes to injury by increasing your range of exercise.

This is what happens, for example, in the squat. If you can only descend to 90 degrees during normal warm-up and stretch before lowering your buttocks to the ground, the risk of injury increases significantly.

You should never increase your amplitude, your flexibility, when you exercise. This is the best way to hurt yourself.

Stretching practice allows you to relax. After a special session or after a workout, you feel calm, relaxed, light. Indeed, stretching has an analgesic effect. That is, it masks pain by releasing endorphins. It also helps explain the risk of increased injury if stretching is done before or during resistance training.

After the session, stretching allows artificial relaxation to restore the degree of conformity of our muscles before the session. This should be done with tweezers because, as we have seen, they can also increase muscle damage.

is double edged so. If in doubt, you will still need to refrain.

Finally, a clear stretch effect: they increase flexibility! But what’s the point of being flexible?

To perform movements with amplitude, we need.

Some do not need to stretch and have good natural flexibility. They can do a full squat without lifting the pelvis from the spine from a certain flexion, while for others, lowering to 90 degrees is already difficult.

This is where the practice of stretching comes into its own to provide the flexibility we need to perform our movements, for example to avoid injury.

It also allows you to hurt less in order to recover better (therefore) because you will be less prone to microtrauma due to sprains. On the forums, we have already had many examples of dirty muscles due to squatting practice, this is no coincidence.

In a world where 99% of people lack flexibility (and lack morphology), doing an exercise such as squatting means stretching very very hard, the load helps to descend and therefore stretch more than necessary.

I think this example says a lot. This applies to all exercises, especially those that are highly stretched. Therefore, adaptive flexibility is one of the best remedies for injury.

Now the question is: how flexible should you be?

This should be a little more than what it takes for our movements to maintain a “certain” stiffness, a certain compression force, because, as we have seen, being too flexible, too flexible, makes you “lose” strength. We’re not “sending back” enough.

Les étirements pour la musculation

Bodybuilding Apps

Having looked at the stretch effects in general, let’s take a quick look at when to stretch.

Static and PNF stretch marks should be absolutely avoided.

Ballistic stretches can be used provided that you do not exaggerate the amplitude of the exercise required.

Again, static and PNF stretching should be avoided.

Ballistic stretches can be used if you feel they improve circulation and slightly relax the muscle to restore “normal” contractility.

Everything will depend on the intensity of the session and the “risk” of pain. However, whatever they are, the practice of static stretching without straining the amplitude will allow you to relax and unwind.

They can also speed up your recovery if they improve circulation and allow you to regain near-normal contractility.

This is without a doubt the best time to stretch. But be careful to distinguish connective tissue strain from muscle strain.

When stretched, connective tissue is the toughest. Therefore, they will be the target of these cold spots, which are called mitigation.

As you warm up your muscles, the muscles become tighter, you will be the one who will stretch most of the time.

Be that as it may, remember that in both cases the two “pieces” will stretch. You can’t really shoot one without shooting the other.

Finally, if you’re in pain, calm down first. It’s not about pulling muscles. The rule is always the same: slowly but surely.

Build a stretch

It’s as easy as creating a curriculum.

In the coming weeks, we will try to provide you with a stretching encyclopedia that will be updated regularly so that you can know what to do at a stretch, get ideas.

When it comes to bodybuilding, note that regularity is very, very important. Better to do a 20 minute session 5 times a week than half an hour once a week.

Only with this regularity will you increase your flexibility.

As for stretching in practice, it is obvious that it will not be ballistic, but static and PNF stretches that will form the basis of these sessions.

It goes without saying that you don’t need to force too much either. The risk of injury is relatively high, and it is important to move to tolerable pain threshold, smoothly, carefully, but surely. It’s so easy to stretch a muscle if you apply a lot of tension to it in a relatively extreme stretching position.

So choose one or two stretches per muscle that you will repeat in each session. You can also alternate sessions between your upper and lower body if you like. There is really no rule on this matter.

Also choose stretch marks according to your “problems”. One muscle can be stiff and the other very flexible. It’s like bodybuilding, you can lift your chest and have difficulty with your arms. In this case, you will focus on your hands. It’s the same here.

Happy stretching everyone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *