Muscle Stretching: Why and When to Stretch?

By | June 21, 2017

We call stretching to the tensioning, elongation or elongation of Bone structures, muscles, tendons, joint capsules, ligaments, skin, etc.


Through the stretches we achieve:

  • Reduce muscle tension.
  • Improve coordination allowing a freer and easier movement.
  • Increase the amplitude of the movements and maintain the existing properties of extensibility avoiding a chronic progressive shortening.
  • Prevent injuries such as contractures or muscle cramps.
  • Favor circulation by creating certain vasodilation.
  • Improve body knowledge or proprioception.
  • Facilitate oxygenation of muscle.


When we undergo stretching to a muscle, in the first place an elongation deformation called the elastic phase is produced. When the stretching is stopped, the muscle returns to its initial length without any deformation persisting.

If, after reaching the elastic phase, instead of finishing the stretch, we maintain it in time, making the stretching more intense, a much more important elongation takes place, which persists even when the stretch is interrupted. It is called plastic deformation.

We can understand this better if we compare the muscle with a spring. We have a fixed spring on a wall. If we pull the free end of the spring wanting to stretch it and do it quickly and quickly, the spring is stretched and when released it returns to its initial position. On the other hand, if the spring is pulled slowly, progressively and maintained over time (deformation or elastic phase), the spring begins to deform and to stretch so that when the force pulling on it is released, the spring Is deformed in elongation (plastic deformation).


This is distancing the two muscle insertion points; you must have a fixed point and moving point play on him. Typically, the muscle or muscle group aims to stretch to contract at the beginning of the move as a sign of defense or fear, why stretching should be very progressive. The following principles must be respected:

  • Respect the articular condition: the articular position necessary for the stretching must respect the axes and planes of this joint.
  • Respect the articular amplitudes: stretching should not go beyond the joint possibilities so as not to injure the capsular or ligamentous structures.
  • Preheating: to avoid risk of rupture.
  • Preparatory stage: place the muscle in a pre-stretch state.
  • Progressive Tension: Slow and Progressive
  • Respect stretching times: The stretching technique is developed in several sequences:
  • 1ยบ time: put into progressive tension
  • 2nd time: once reached the maximum tension hold it (between 20 and 30 seconds)
  • 3rd time: relaxation must be very slow and smooth
  • Respect the no-pain rule: Stretching in itself causes an unpleasant sensation, however the application must keep in mind that this sensation is always tolerable.
  • During stretching the breath should be slow, regular, and deep allowing time for the muscle to oxygenate well.

WHEN TO STRETCH? In the practice of sports it is advisable to perform stretching in the warm up, during the training and at the end of the sport activity.

  • In the heat: it is advisable to work joint mobility of the joints involved in sports to develop, in the case of athletic activity would knees, ankles and hips. Perform stretching of the muscles that work the most in the sport to be practiced. In athletics it would be advisable to do stretches of hamstrings, twins, adductors, soleus, hip flexors, quadriceps and spinal erectors.
  • During training: if a training series is performed in which the stretching and rest stops are indicated to slow the loss of elasticity that occurs as a result of training done. Facilitating recovery of the muscles you are working on.
  • At the end of the sporting activity stretches they are also recommended in order to decrease muscle tone and promote blood flow.
  • A continuation, a series of stretches to stretch all the musculature in general.
  • Stretching should become a habit for those who perform sporting activities for all his benefits described above. Being one of the most important injury prevention.
  • In the case of brokers, travel kilometers and not stretching causes a huge muscle imbalance that, the medium term, may cause injury. By properly stretching the muscles recover their initial position, they discharge to a great extent, facilitate their drainage and stimulate a greater blood circulation.
  • Remembering the example of the pier we will respect the marked times, controlling the stretching and the posture at all times without making swings or rebounds. Never a stretch has to be painful.