First of all, we need to strengthen our muscles before we stretch them.
Our muscles strengthen when they strong work like lowering down slowly into chaturanga, moving heavy weights around etc.
They also become strong when they do contract against a high enough resistance that they are stimulated to adapt to increase the amount of force they can generate.
Be aware that the one and only way our muscles grow weaker is when they don’t do strengthening work. We need to expose our muscles to progressive loads and use them in order to avoid weakening.
Strengthening is to do with force production while stretching is to do with tissue extensibility.
To understand how stretching is done, we need to understand the difference between flexibility and extensibility.
Tissue flexibility refers to the ability of a muscle or tendon to lengthen to allow normal joint motion which is important for gross motions such as bending and straightening the knee to appropriate degrees.
On the other hand, tissue extensibility deals with the individual fibres that make up the muscle and tendon. These fibres must glide over one another for a smooth motion to occur. Anything that inhibits the gliding or extensibility of the fibres will, in turn, affect the overall flexibility of a muscle or joint.
Regular stretching increases and maintains a healthy range of motion. It improves posture and eases pain, boosts circulation and calm the nervous system. As we age, we lose elasticity in the body making stretching even more important for our healthy, wellness and quality of life.
However, overstretching can lead to strain, hypermobility and instability that can wreak havoc on the body.
For starters, don’t stretch passively – actively engage the muscles you’re seeking to stretch.
Muscle engagement creates integration and prevents hyperextension, helping to keep muscle fibres, tendons and ligaments safely intact and the joints stable.
Stretching with muscle integration is not only an issue of safety, but also efficiency. Stretching with engagement will actually allow you to move more deeply into a pose.