What is the influence of the frequent practice of stretching on the physical capacity?

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       Clearly the involvement of different physical capacities in our everyday actions, such as flexibility and muscle strength, which are very important for increasing the efficiency of movements. This efficiency reflected in a larger facility for the execution of movements, resulting in higher quality of life and health (ACHOUR JR, 2006)

      In order to acquire a great flexibility if the use of stretching exercises is necessary, which are defined as any technique used to promote increased soft tissue mobility and therefore the range of motion (Ylinen et al., 2009) .

      Several articles have reported that the application of a physical activity preceding stretching can cause deleterious effects on dynamic strength (BEHM et al., 2004;. MAREK et al, 2005). And isometric strength (BEHM et al, 2001; Fowles et al ., 2000; Kokkonen et al, 1998;. Power et al, 2004).. Acute stretching pulses of high intensity can impair equilibration, reaction and movement (BEHM et al., 2004).

     As the Ministry of Training reported in a previous post, the use of static stretching preceding the training requires care. Need to know if the student has shortening or not, thus mediate the intensity of stretching and the need or not preceding task (Click here to read the article).

    But what about the use of stretching out the training schedule and chronic form, ie, as a form of flexibility training?

   In work of Magnusson et al. (1996), are found data suggesting that chronic stimulation is different because, according to the authors, the practice of flexibility training cause adaptations in which the muscles become more tolerant to stress. So we can also think of the possibility that practitioners of flexibility training may have less negative acute effect due to its greater tolerance.

      However, an opposite effect is observed when it comes to chronic effect of stretching, as in a study by Kokkonen et al. (17) where using a 10-week protocol with three weekly sessions consist of three sets of 15 seconds. The authors found an increase in the strength of the lower limbs after the training period.

     The possibility of muscle strength gain after a stretching training period was also evaluated by Handel et al. (18), which recruited athletes and for eight weeks made three weekly sessions composed of several years in which amounted to 86 minutes per session. The author not only reports the increase in strength after the period as stresses that this increase in strength began to exist after three weeks of study.

     Another intervention performed by Worrel et al. (19) using a volume of sessions and strength evaluation method similar to our study, however, with young adults, there were no significant differences in the strength of flexors and extensors of the knee at 60 ° per second, although a trend the increase. Considering this fact, we can suggest that the volume of elongation per session (4 sets of 20 seconds) or the intensity of this (not reported by the authors) were not sufficiently effective.

     Interesting studies carried out by Coutinho et al (2004), and Williams (1998) reported other benefits from the practice of stretching techniques. Both used their techniques in rats (taking into account their genetic similarity to humans) using the soleus muscle as an experiment and sessions with volume of 30 and 40 minutes respectively. The authors of the cited research, found maintenance of muscle cross-sectional area suggesting that static stretching is effective in this role, provided that using high volumes. The suggestion that would require high volumes of stretching, of the fact that Williams (1990), in a study using rats, however, with 15 minutes of stretching per session, it was not enough to prevent a reduction in cross-sectional area of soleus muscle.

     A more recent study found that in just one week, with three sessions of 40 minutes were enough to mitigate the loss of cross-sectional area of the soleus muscle in relation to leg not studied.

    We then suggest that the practice of stretching can not only increases flexibility and strength as well as being effective in maintaining lean body mass. Thus, the static stretching becomes a great alternative for individuals not fans of more vigorous physical activities, both for its practicality, as efficiency.

Image reference: Globalfitness