Hi, everyone. It's Constance with BodyTx. I just wanted to talk today a little bit about the topic of stretching, just talking about what it is, what it actually means, whether we should be doing it, why we should be doing it, just the general concept around stretching.
I wanted to touch base a little bit about the common misconception about what stretching actually does physically. So the first thing is that when we think of stretching, sometimes people think of an elastic band, that we're kind of stretching it, making it longer. Say for example a muscle or soft tissue in our bodies and between two joints, say for example a hip flexor. The reality is that we're actually not lengthening it. So for example, muscles are actually under a lot of tensile strength between two joints. It's a lot of pounds per pressure actually and it would be almost impossible for us to have the strength to counteract the tensile strength at each joint of the muscle.
So when we're doing a stretch, it's actually affecting the neural pathways. So on our soft tissue, in our muscles, at our joints, we have a lot of pain receptors. They send back messages to us when things are a little bit maybe out of the usual, out of the ordinary, something that's actually going to injure you. So for example, when you're doing a stretch, and you get to that point where you feel it really actually maybe hurt, those are your pain receptors triggering to you, sending a message to your brain saying, "Look, something's a little bit unusual here. Pay attention, body."
Then as you go further into that stretch, you feel like you can go further, and the pain is actually subsiding a little bit the longer you maybe hold the stretch. Really what's going on is that the pain receptors are getting numbed down. Your brain is starting to turn them off, saying that, "No, this is actually an okay situation here." So when it comes to stretching, it is a very beneficial thing to do, either pre-exercise, post-exercise, any time really. It's just more you're training your neural pathway in terms of saying that, "Yes, it's okay to have this greater range of motion around your joints."