Does Stretching Encourage Muscle Growth?
Muscle hypertrophy is a target for many people and consists of increasing muscle fiber. But, what about stretching? Can it help us to build muscle? Or does it make it harder?
People have always believed stretching to be a great pre-workout activity. In addition, many theories are based on muscle-tendon elongation to improve movement and warm up the body as a preparation for exercise.
Why do we stretch our muscles?
People stretch in order to loosen up their bodies or to prep their bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons for the workout to follow. Stretching also warms up surrounding tissue. Warming up the tissue beforehand lessens the chance of suffering muscle injuries.
Stretching and the types of stretches
Over the years, stretches have been classified into different groups based on their objective. There’s a huge difference between the stretches geared towards recovery and those for activation. In addition, there are many kinds of activation stretches that suit different kinds of workouts:
- Static stretches: stretching in a rest position. In static stretches, participants elongate a muscle from a certain position and hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
- Dynamic stretches: dynamic stretches require impulse but never surpass the limits of static stretches.
- Active stretches: active stretches apply contraction to the antagonist muscle.
- Passive stretches: passive stretches are a sort of elongation that uses an external force to stretch out a body part.
- Ballistic stretches: dynamic, fast stretches that include bouncing movements.
- PNF stretches: PNF stretches are isometric, which means no movement. After the PNF stretches, you should rest your body in order to continue with static stretches, expanding your range of movement.
Should you stretch if you want to build muscle?
There’s no black-and-white answer. Instead, the answer lies in applying the right kind of stretches to suit a workout. In addition, it’s important to think about when to stretch during a workout as well.
So, the question is: does stretching encourage muscle hypertrophy? Stretching doesn’t directly help muscle growth, but it has an indirect impact. For starters, stretching at least two or three hours after a workout session helps the affected areas recover.
Adding on, stretching before a muscle-contracting workout can also help you recover your range of movement. Stretching lengthens the muscle and helps it recover from the stress of exercise. In that sense, it helps prevent injuries.
When should you avoid stretching?
It can actually be counterproductive before hypertrophy exercises. Additionally, stretching right after finishing a workout or in between a set of exercises can lead to injuries.
Muscle injuries are a result of disruption when handing weights that make the muscle expand and contract. Completely elongating a muscle right after weight-lifting can rip fibers as well as leading to ligament or tendon injuries.
Stretching: in other workout contexts
Every workout is a world of its own. We need to look into the context of a workout before applying a stretching routine. If you’re playing soccer or dancing, ballistic or PNF stretches could be a good warm-up as these sports require ballistic technique and strength without facing any external weights.
On the other hand, we want to repeat that hypertrophy exercises normally include middle- to heavy-weight equipment. Stretching is the complete opposite of muscle contraction, which could make them clash.
But in other sports or workouts that don’t focus on building muscle, stretching serves a different purpose.
In any case, the fact that stretching is beneficial only several hours after a hypertrophy workout should make you think that taking care of your body isn’t limited to just doing a workout. You have to be conscious about everything all the time.
Stretching can help muscle growth as long as it’s done the right way, at the right time and appropriately.