Many professionals will agree that stretching is important for our muscles. However, we are finding that just stretching a muscle isn’t all that effective or beneficial.
When we look at a muscle microscopically we see billions of sarcomeres. Sarcomeres are the basic unit of muscle fibers. They bind together to help shorten and lengthen the muscle. Through everyday activity or inactivity, our muscles tend to lengthen or shorten for an extended period of time. This creates muscle tightness. For example, when you sit at a desk reaching forward to type your chest muscles will shorten and your upper back muscles will lengthen. Over time this will result in muscle imbalance with the shortened muscles becoming “tight,” and the lengthened muscles becoming weak.
When we stretch our muscles the sarcomeres will stretch apart. However, once we are done stretching they will just bind tightly back together. That is why effective stretching involves lengthening the muscle, activating it, then lengthening it again.
See the video below for more details of how to do the stretch your neck muscles more effectively.