Sitting in the same position and doing the same kind of activities causes the muscles in different parts of the body to shorten. Muscle lengthening exercises, therefore, should be done regularly to undo the effects caused by day-to-day activities...
All through the day we perform a wide range of movements. Some of these movements cause the different muscles to either lengthen, shorten or remain the same. However, if you have to analyze the range of motions that are performed all through the day, you will see that there are some movements that we repeatedly perform all through the day.
It can be working on the computer, talking on the phone, driving, etc. These activities cause the muscles to shorten. Hence, practicing muscle lengthening exercises is necessary for better elasticity of the muscles.
There are a number of muscle lengthening techniques, however, the easiest of them all is stretching the muscles. Lengthening exercises are also flexibility exercises which not only help in lengthening the muscles, but also to increase the range of motion of the joints. These exercises are often a part of yoga, Pilates, etc.
Muscle Lengthening Stretches
There are many advantages of doing limb lengthening exercises. If children have to do these exercises, it will help them increase their height.
Exercises like kick boxing, jumping rope, cycling, etc., help in lengthening the shin and thigh bone, which helps in increasing the height as well. Similarly, the benefits of muscle lengthening exercises for different muscles are many.
This exercise should be practiced by all athletes after their training. Stand on a ledge with your heels hanging off the floor. You may stand close to a wall or otherwise for support. Now slowly lower yourself, so that your heels are pushed below the height of the ledge. You will experience a stretch in the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon. Hold in this position for 20 to 30 seconds, before you slowly release.
Downward Facing Dog
This is one of the leg exercises which helps in lengthening the back of the body. Come down on all fours in a tabletop position. Slowly push yourself up, so that your legs and arms are straightened. Try to reach the heel to the floor, as you make sure you are not collapsing in your shoulders. Your aim should be to push your hip joint towards the ceiling. Once you get into the position, maintain it for 20 to 30 seconds before you release.
Most of us have tight shoulders as a result of working on desks for hours on end. This is a simple stretch which will help to open the shoulder joint and also lengthen the muscles. Stand with hip width distance between your feet. Extend both your hands behind you. Now try to interlace the fingers.
Most people will find it difficult to interlace the fingers. If you are able to interlace the fingers, try to push your hands up to shoulder height. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds before you release.
Cat and Camel Stretch
One of the best lengthening exercises for the spine. Come into a table top position with about 1.5 to 2 feet distance between your hands and knees. Make sure there is about shoulder width distance between your hands and hip width distance between your knees. Now round up your spine, as though you were to reach the ceiling with your spine.
As you round your spine, your neck and head will reach towards your chest. Slowly come back to the starting position and then arch your back, so that your pelvis tilts away from you as your buttocks rise into the air. Hold both the positions for a few seconds, before you release and come back to the starting position. When you are doing this stretch, make sure abdominal muscles are engaged.
To do the quadriceps stretch, stand with hip width distance between your feet. Shift your weight onto the left leg and bend the right leg such that the heel of the right leg touches the buttocks. Try to pull your ankle up a little further than your comfort level. Hold the position for 30 to 45 seconds, slowly release and repeat the same on the left leg.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Sit on your exercise mat with both your legs extended out straight. Pull your legs in closer to you with the soles of the feet pressed into one another. Try to bring the feet as close as you can to your body. Hold the toes of the feet together and try to relax the thighs onto the floor. However, make sure you are not trying to push the thighs by using external pressure on them. Hold the position for as long as you can and then relax.
Before doing lengthening exercises, it is important that the muscles are warmed up. One can do any aerobic activity to warm up the muscles. If the muscles are not warmed up, then there are chances that the muscle fibers may snap. Another tip that you will always want to remember while doing the lengthening exercises, is to do the movements slowly and never flop out of the stretch. Unwind slowly at all costs to avoid any injury.