Stretching One Limb Helps Strengthen the Opposite One
I hate to beat everyone to death with the stretching research on here, but this study is just way too cool not to discuss.
We’re in no position to say what’s right or wrong regarding stretching, but this particular study suggests static stretching could actually increase strength – in both the stretched AND contralateral muscle!
In short, researchers found that without any resistance training, statically stretching one calf led to a 29% increase in strength in the stretched calf, and an 11% strength increase in the NON-STRETCHED calf of untrained individuals. Wild!
They attributed the findings to neurological stimulation (Remember: A large part of strength is due to neurological adaptations, particularly in the untrained.): Passive stretching activates afferent activity and increases neural output of the muscle spindles, resulting in both increased strength AND a crosstraining effect.
What the heck does this mean?!?! In laymen’s terms, if you have an injured arm or leg that you can’t train, simply stretching the healthy one may help you maintain its strength – at least the part derived from neural components.
Now THAT is cool.