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What is Strength Training vs Stretching?

Did you know stretching is the exact opposite of Strength training? Learn the science of stretching:  

Let’s understand STRENGTHENING (concentric) vs. STRETCHING (eccentric).

With a concentric movement - a muscle shortens. To strengthen a muscle, start with it long and contract it's fibers into one another to shorten the muscle... analogous to arrows penetrating in.

With an eccentric movement - a muscle lengthens. To stretch the muscle, start with it short and the muscles fibers and muscle-fascia contracted into one another. In order to lengthen for the stretch, more force is required (2 to 20X - depending on the health of the fascia - compared to a strength movement)… analogous to pulling arrows out.

Does stretching increase strength? (The right kind of stretching does exponentially!)

It is important to understand and feel the force displayed by the strength of a muscle verses resistive force inherent in fascia.

When both tissues (muscle and fascia) are healthy, the ratio of force between the two should be 1 (muscle strength) to 1 (fascia resistive force) or perhaps 1 to 2 in some areas of the body. Meaning: If you can lift 10 pounds with your bicep, you can also maximally resist no more than 10 pounds with your bicep.

However, in most people, the tissues are not healthy (the muscles are weak and do not contract and the fascia is dense and dehydrated and has a huge amount of resistance in it) and the ratio is closer to 1 to 10 or even 1 to 20.

In other words, say you can lift 5 pounds at the most with your bicep, you would require 50 pounds of force to maximally resist and stretch the fascia out in your bicep.

This is a very unhealthy and imbalanced ratio and it's common in most peoples' biceps!

Based on this fact, eccentric stretch movements need to be done at least 10 times more than concentric strength movements to create a balanced ratio between the tissues.

When you do an eccentric stretch movement, the result is subtractive. Dense, dehydrated fascia is eliminated or erased and restructured on a cellular level into healthy fascia. As a result, the associated muscle becomes freed up and strong without you ever needing to lift a weight.

The animal kingdom makes eccentric stretch movements approximately 40 times per day. Maybe we should be taking our exercise tips from them!

When our muscles are strong and flexible they move us around with ease and grace. But when our fascia becomes unhealthy, it binds and strangulates our muscles... making us weak and stiff and ultimately causing us pain.

One of the most common areas where pain occurs in the body is at a joint or in the spine (ankles, knees, hips, SI Joint, low back, middle back, upper back, shoulders, neck, elbows, wrists). This happens because over time our muscles accumulated too much dense fascia - from repetitive movements or a lack of diversity of movement. The muscles stop doing their job to move our bodies around - to make movements in other words. But we keep moving. So our joints overwork to allow our bodies to move. Eventually wear and tear in the joint shows up and you experience pain and injury.

The most common approach to solving this is to ‘strengthen’ muscles in the body. However, if you don’t remove some of the dense fascia first, the strengthening won’t be as effective.

Stretching for Strength: Experience an immediate increase in strength right now!

  1. Try a few push ups (3-5) - regular push ups - from your knees or from you feet whichever is best for you. 
  2. Do 10 repetitions of the 2 stretches below - for the chest and shoulders. 
  3. Go back and do another 3-5 regular pushups and feel how much easier they are! Notice how your shoulder joint moves smoother and you have more power and less strain when you do the pushups.

Pillar 1 - Start Position: In a bridge position with hands a little wider than shoulder width. 

Pillar 2 - Resist: Squeeze your hands together. 

Pillar 3 - Lengthen for the Stretch with resistance throughout the movement: Lower your face and chest down below your hands. 

Pillar 4 - Release and Return to the Start position. Repeat Pillar 1. 

Pillar 1 - Start Position: In a lunge position with target elbow on the outside of the opposite knee, the forearm driving forward and the opposite hand on the front of the wrist. 

Pillar 2 - Resist: Press your forearm forward and your elbow into your knee. 

Pillar 3 - Lengthen for the Stretch: Using the helping hand to draw the forearm into your side. 

Pillar 4 - Release and Return to the Start position. Repeat Pillar 1. 

1 thought on “What is Strength Training vs Stretching?”

  1. What do I do if I have 2 TKR; right one immediately failed due to glue not holding. They are at replacement age. I’m 70 and afraid I will injure three replacement and knees even more. My right shoulder was badly damaged at 40 years old. It dislocated into my body cavity. It was relocated with no pain meds , 6 nurses, doctors holding me down. Surgery was not appropriate because I was just a housewife said the Doctor. Went through 10 months PT. Breaking up fascia of frozen shoulder. It’s been years and my arm will only lift up almost straight out instead of up. Both shoulders fall out to a degree I have to have someone lift them up. I have Fibromyalgia and RA. What are my options?

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