why do tendons need to be stretchy
First, they end up mostly agreeing with a body of previous research suggesting that increased range of motion following a prolonged stretching program is mainly the result of increased tolerance to the sensation of stretching, rather than actually loosening the muscle-tendon unit. That is, you get better at pushing a little farther when you're at the extreme edge of your range of motion. Here's some data that backs this up:
The top graph shows that stretching (STR) increased calf range of motion more effectively that the non-stretching control group (CON). But the bottom graph offers some insight on how range of motion increased: in essence, it shows how hard a machine had to push in order to reach the point where the subjects said "Okay, stop, that's a far as the joint goes. " If stretching made the muscles and tendons "looser," then you'd expect that the force would be the same but the stretch would be greater.
Instead, we see that the force is much greater after the stretching program: the subjects are willing to be pushed much harder in order to reach a greater range of motion. In other words, all that stretching has simply increased their "stretch tolerance" rather than stretching their muscles. It's not quite that simple, though. The study also looked at the separate contributions of muscle and tendon to the increased range of motion (tendons are what connect muscles to the bones they tug on). The overall stiffness of the muscle-tendon unit didn't change significantly, but that non-result hides the fact that the muscle itself seemed to get less stiff while the tendon was completely unchanged. So all the additional range of motion comes from tugging harder on the muscle and lengthening it.
Still, their overall summing-up emphasizes that stretch tolerance seems to be the key player: "The logical conclusion, therefore, is that whereas some musculo-tendinous factors might influence ROM [range of motion], stretch tolerance is the major influencing factor. " What does this mean in practical terms? If the primary result of stretching is that you get better at stretching (rather than changing the elastic properties of your muscles and tendons), that argues against the idea that static stretching would have a significant role in preventing injuries, except in cases where range of motion is truly limiting. But the finding that muscle stiffness changes a bit leaves the door ajar. It's not a debate that will be settled anytime soon. Read, and follow the latest posts via, or. Here are some keyfacts about muscles.
Muscles move joints and limbs when they contract. The contraction makes the tendon pull on the bone which makes it move. Every joint needs a pair of opposing muscles to make it work. When one of the muscles contracts the other one relaxes. One muscle in the pair contracts to bend the joint and the other muscle in the pair contracts to straighten the joint (Antagonistic pairs). Tendons attach muscles to bones. Tendons are tough and do not stretch - they are inelastic - this ensures that all the movement of the muscle is passed on to the bone. Click on the 'play' button (or alternatively drag the arrow along the vertical bar) in the interactive diagram below to see the elbow bend and straighten as a result of the biceps and triceps relaxing and contracting. Video clip - Muscles needed for movement Muscles is also covered in.
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