The 30 Second Stretch: Yes, It’s Backed by Science

I’ve heard it all my life. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds or so, but I never asked why. According to our anatomy and physiology, it matters!

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Mechanoreceptors (Sensory receptors)

What tells us that a muscle is stretching too much or that it needs to stretch more? Our bodies have muscle spindles and golgi tendon organs that provide that particular service.

Muscle spindles are the major sensory organ of a muscle. They are microscopic fibers that run parallel to a muscle fiber. The main function of a muscle spindle is to alert the brain, via the central nervous system, that a muscle is lengthening too far or too fast (Clark, Lucett, McGill, Montel, & Sutton, 2008). When excess lengthening occurs the muscle spindles contract, resulting in micro muscle spasms or a tight feeling.

Golgi tendon organs are located between a muscle and a tendon, also referred to as the musculotendinous junction. Their job is to to relax a muscle when it is placed under excess tension (Clark, Lucett, McGill, Montel, & Sutton, 2008) For example, if you try to lift a weight that is too heavy, then the GTOs will send a message to the muscles involved to stop the action. The relaxation prevents a muscle from tearing.

Hacking the Body With the 30 Second Stretch

You can hack your body’s system by holding a static stretch for a prolonged period of time. Doing so starts a process called autogenic inhibition. In short, autogenic inhibition is an override of the muscle spindles by the golgi tendon organs, allowing the muscles to relax and lengthen (Clark, Lucett, McGill, Montel, & Sutton, 2008). The 30 second rule is based on this process. Generally speaking, most static stretches should be held long enough for the golgi tendon organs to override the muscle spindles– approximately 30 seconds.


References

Clark, M. A., Lucett, S. C., McGill, E., Montel, I., & Sutton, B. (2018). NASM essentials of personal fitness training. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

My Car was Destroyed, so I Ran

Exercise has always been a mainstay in my life. I became a PE teacher so that I could share my love of exercise with others. Right now I am going through my NASM certification to supplement that teacher pay with more exercise-related work.

Sometimes we forget the value that our hobbies and passions can and do provide us. I was reminded of it this past weekend when I woke up to find my car was missing.

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I am currently living with my girlfriend, and we are in the process of moving to start our new lives in Summerville/Charleston, SC. We live in Charlotte, and street parking is a must in some places. My car was parallel parked right outside of our apartment, but I couldn’t find it…

My first thought was that somebody stole the car. There was glass on the ground and some plastic. Who did this?

As I walked up and down the street looking for my car, checking and rehashing my previous day’s memory of my parking location, a neighbor leaned over her balcony to tell me that my vehicle was involved in an accident. She met me on the road and showed me what happened.

My car is on the top

I was instantly surprised, frustrated, mad, and then entirely annoyed. Why wasn’t I notified? What’s going to happen? I can’t afford this right now… How do I get to work? Was the perpetrator driving a stolen car (the person fled the scene)? Does the car have insurance? F*@%!

The following 24 hours included lots of phone calls, confusion, stress, and more stress. I had to investigate to find out what happened to my car, and I couldn’t get in touch with the officer on duty because he was 3rd shift.

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Eventually all the frustration boiled over and I began to channel my anger in a negative way. The stress was overwhelming, and I had so much energy that I needed to release.

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So I ran… I ran fast and hard. I went to the gym. I worked my butt off and focused my frustration. And the frustration started to ease. The myopic, anger-filled lens I was looking through began to clear.

I did it when my teacher died in middle school– I ran.

I did it when I didn’t believe in myself in college– I ran.

I did it after self-sabotaging behavior– I ran.

I did it when I got my first real job– I ran.

I did it when I didn’t think I could do it– I ran.

I did it through the failures and the successes, the highs and lows, the amazing and dull times– I ran and I will continue to run.

Can you relate?