To Stretch or to Squeeze?
Have you ever played a sport of any kind or competed in any way? Maybe not, maybe so. I’ll ask a different question, is it proper thing to stretch your muscles before any kind of physical activity?
I’ll tell you this. It is NOT stretching.
There is a great book called Body by Science.There is a key concept in Body by Science. It is the fact that strength training provides a strong cardiovascular stimulus. How is this you may ask? Every time a muscle contracts, it increases the blood flow to the heart. This is because every time a muscle contracts, it squeezes the veins briefly which accelerates the speed of blood flow. Think about your heart itself. It is a muscle. It pumps blood. How? Through repeated contractions. These contractions of the heart itself are enhanced by strong contractions throughout the entire body.
“With strength training, you’re able to perform a type of exercise that enhances your coronary artery blood flow while simultaneously decreasing the amount of resistance against which your heart has to pump.” (McGuff, Little 113)
What is opposite of a contraction? A stretch.
Picture this; if contracting or squeezing the muscle is beneficial to blood flow, a stretch of the muscle is the exact opposite. This is especially true when talking about static stretches. The American Council on Exercise stated that, “holding a static stretch for more than five seconds can decrease localized blood flow to the muscle.”
While stretching feels good, don’t overdo it. To increase cardiovascular health, strength train (HIT).
McGuff, Doug, and John R. Little. Body by Science: A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body Building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.
Fitzalan Gorman. “Does Stretching Help Blood Flow Through Muscles?” Healthy Living. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2015. .