If you're thinking about gaining muscle mass, that's probably not the first thing that comes to mind. In case you should know, it also plays a critical role in building muscle in your body
If you're thinking about gaining muscle, stretching isn't likely the first thing that comes to mind. Did you know that when it comes to stretching, it plays a critical role in building muscle?
Every muscle in your body is locked in a bag of sturdy connective tissue known as fascia. Fascia is important to keep your muscles in the right place in your body.
But your fascia can also stop your muscle growth. Think about your muscles for a moment. You train them and feed them well. Your muscles want to grow and will grow, but something is holding them back. They have no room to grow!
Because the fascia is so strong, the muscle space cannot increase. It's like putting a big pillow in a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle doesn't change no matter how hard you train or how well you eat, because the connective tissue around your muscles constricts the muscles in it.
The best example of this is the calf muscle. The lower leg is dotted with fascia due to its enormous weight-bearing tasks in the body. Because of this fascination, many trainers have great difficulty developing their calves.
The solution: stretching.
With the pillowcase example from above, imagine that you can enlarge the pillowcase by stretching it. Suddenly, the cushion inside has more space and will expand to fill that new space.
By stretching your muscles under certain conditions, you can even stretch your fascia and give your muscles more room to grow.
Majority importance to an effective fascial stretching is the pump. Therefore one of the best time to stretch to increase the pockets in your muscles are the moment your muscles are pumped full of blood.
When your muscles are fully inflated, they press against the fascia. By stretching hard at that point, you greatly increase that pressure on the fascia, which can lead to expansion of the fascia.
One of the main reasons Arnold Schwarzenegger had such incredible breast development was that he ended his chest workouts with dumbell flyes, an exercise that emphasizes the stretched position of the chest muscles. He pumped his chest full of blood during training and then did flies, holding the piece at the bottom of the fly. This gave his chest room to grow to astonishing proportions.
Fascial stretching is stricter than regular stretching, but the results can be amazing. If you stretch hard enough to expand the fascia, you will really feel it! When you stretch the fascia, you should feel a strong pulling sensation and pressure as the muscle works against the fascia to expand it.
Make sure not to stretch so hard that you tear the muscle or injure yourself. You quickly learn to distinguish the difference between a good stretch and a bad stretch. You shouldn't feel a sharp pain, just a steady pull.
Hold each piece for at least 20 to 30 seconds, as you should give your fascia time to be affected by the piece. So only stretch if you have a fully pumped muscle because you have to give your fascia a reason to expand. If your muscles aren't pumped, just stretch.