Hands down, THE best reason to stretch more!
*cough* ..stretch at all
A recent study showed stretching actually improves muscle growth! (read study here and thank you for sharing Zach Walston)
55 active and pain-free participants (28 male and 27 female) were given a calf stretching device and asked to use it for 1 hour a day, every day, for 6 weeks while sitting with the knee extended. The stretch was pretty intense, with an intensity rating of 7-8 out of 10 (10 being the highest level of discomfort). Before and after the 6-week period, the participants’ ankle range of motion and strength were tested, as well as the thickness of their calf muscles using ultrasound.
Each participant’s two legs were tested, with one receiving the stretching intervention and the other not, helping to address any differences in sleep, diet, and activity levels that might have affected the results.
And guess what? The results of the study were similar to previous studies by the same researchers. Stretching alone led to significant improvements across the board.
However, there were some differences between males and females.
The study results showed that women and men experienced different levels of improvement in strength and range of motion, depending on whether their knee was extended or flexed during the stretching exercise.
- Men improved strength by 15.5% and range of motion by 21.4% with the knee extended.
- Women improved strength by 8.7% and range of motion by 13.3% with the knee extended.
- Women improved strength by 6.2% and range of motion by 6.0% with the knee flexed.
- Men improved strength by 8.3% and range of motion by 15.5% with the knee flexed.
- Women showed a 4.2% improvement in the medial head and a 5.2% improvement in the lateral head.
- Men showed a 14.5% improvement in the medial head and a 4.5% improvement in the lateral head for muscle thickness.
- The only significant change in the control leg was a 4.5% increase in knee extended strength in men.
Although stretching may induce muscle hypertrophy, it is not a substitute for resistance training, which is more efficient and has additional benefits such as greater strength development, improved bone mineral density, and better cardio-pulmonary health.
However, stretching could be a useful adjunct when time is limited, and could be applied during rehabilitation to prevent muscle and strength loss.
What we like to do at Witness The Fitness is spend 8 minutes on mobility before our workouts which is a mixture of weighted and non-weight dynamic movements and finish the session with static stretching, holding each stretch for approximately 60 seconds at a minimum.
Stretching is then encouraged before bed, every evening, during your current Netflix/Binge/Prime show!
Yours in Health and Fitness,