What is the Goal of a Muscle Stretch?

👣 The end goal of a muscle stretch is for that muscle to contract and for a joint to experience range.

👣 The question is do muscles enjoy being held under tension? Or is their desire, once stretched, to shorten again?

👣 I stated in my book What The Foot that muscles operate in a kind of on-off-on-off scenario; implying that muscles operate best under a lengthen: shorten: lengthen: shorten regime. 

👣 Holding a static stretch or isometric hold, you will notice, has a similar outcome. It’s impossible to hold one position and you tend to bob around that position. This bobbing around implies movement and movement implies the shortening and lengthening of tissue – Just over smaller and smaller ranges. Is it possible to get the maximum lengthening and shortening available over larger ranges instead of small ones? Yes of course. We do this by focussing on the bones that the muscles attach to and the joints that they span. 

👣 Isometric or static holds without a conscious awareness of the bony position of the skeleton will be the difference between optimising a static hold for say, a hamstring, and just holding a hamstring still. The positioning of not just one joint but integrated joints can bring multiple muscles into play, a lengthening of those many muscles, means a subsequent contraction of those many muscles. And doing so whilst achieving an end range of those many joints, means an end range contraction for the many muscles and now in response the joints are simultaneously travelling in the opposite direction in all three dimensions of movement towards the opposite end range.

👣 An integrated exploration of both end ranges is the best of both worlds for joint’s to experience range and muscles to experience maximal length and maximal contraction in a sequence of inter-connected joint motion as opposed to focusing on individual structures, individual muscles or contraction types. There is only one type of muscle contraction: ideally from a lengthened position to its shortened version. 

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