Lengthen and Strengthen

stretches for muscles

Lengthen and Strengthen

Have you heard your physio or massage therapist say the phrase lengthen and strengthen when talking about muscles and how to avoid or recuperate from injuries?

Is it really possible to lengthen a muscle? It conjures up visions of people swerving around as if they are made of rubber bands, with arms reaching down to the ground and bodies 10 feet tall. Well, at least that is the vision I have in my head!

When we talk about lengthening a muscle what we are actually saying is helping the muscle fibres to relax out of a tight or shortened state which can be the result of an injury or another painful experience. A muscle is made of various thick and thin fibres and through overstretching or excessive exercise or being in an immobile stance for a long period of time, the fibres contract, overlap and form cross bridges. This is when we feel that our muscles are tight or feel painful depending on the reason for the contraction. By relaxing the muscle, the cross bridges disappear, and the overlapping is reduced to bring the muscle back to its normal lengthened state.

By doing exercises which involve safe controlled stretching you can help ‘lengthen’ the muscles out of their contracted state.

Strengthening the muscles surrounding an injured area is also important. Various groups of muscles are involved in moving our joints and so strengthening those that are active in supporting the injured muscle, will aid recovery. For example, if you have a knee injury, your therapist may work on the quadricep muscles which extend the knee and the hamstrings which flex the knee and work on strengthening your calf muscles.

This is where a series of treatment sessions with your massage therapist will help you recover from injuries sooner rather than later and in conjunction with a personal trainer setting a programme of strengthening exercises you will be back to your desired sports regime in no time.

If you have any question relating to the above blog, or would like to receive information on the wellbeing services we provide to businesses across the UK, please contact Kathy Scott on info@handsonatwork.co.uk