Isometric Stretching Examples
Isometric stretching is a passive stretching type meaning it requires no motion. Isometric stretching requires resistance (tension) of muscle groups through isometric contractions.
An isometric, or static contraction occurs when tension is created in the muscle group without a change in its length. A chair, wall, the floor or a partner can act as the resistance to bring about a static contraction and isometric stretch.
This is by far the fastest way to develop static-passive flexibility, furthermore it is much more effective than passive or active stretching alone.
Helps to develop strength to tensed muscle and with time releases the pain of stretching as a whole. Isometric stretching is quite demanding on the muscle tendons and joints, and therefore should not be performed more than once per day for a given group of muscles.
When a muscle is stretched, some muscle fibres are elongated while others will remain at rest.
This is similar to the “all or none” principle of muscle contraction. The greater the stretch, the more individual fibres are stretched fully (rather than all fibres being stretched to a greater extent).
When a muscle, that is already in a stretched position, is subjected to an isometric contraction, additional fibres are stretched that would have otherwise remained at rest.
Those resting fibres are pulled on from both ends by the muscle groups that are contracting. Fibres already in a stretched position (before the onset of the isometric contraction) are prevented from contracting by the inverse myotatic reflex and stretch to a greater extent.
Isometric Stretching Guidelines
- Do Isometric stretching with 2 day breaks in between
- One muscle group per stretching routine
- 3-4 sets per exercise
- All stretching exercises should be for atleast 15 seconds
- Stretch only after physical activities, hence your muscles are warm up and ready for stress and tension
Things To Consider
- Keep in mind that isometric stretching can by no means considered as a part of a warm-up routine. Most frequently, this type of activity is performed as an individual exercise routine, therefore, before practicing it, you should perform a separate warm-up session and some cardiovascular exercises of 5-10 minutes to prepare your muscles and ligaments for this strenuous stretching program.
- This type of activity puts a lot of pressure on the muscle tissues, and that means you have to be adequately trained in terms of the strength of your muscles (by performing some strength training beforehand) in order not to put yourself in danger. And that’s why isometric stretching is contraindicated for individuals who are under 18 and therefore the demanding nature of this activity is more likely to provoke harm to their connective tissue and tendons.
- If you sense any serious pain when performing the stretches or during your intervals, discontinue immediately and seek for medical advice.
- It is absolutely crucial to abstain from this form or activity if you have a history of serious muscle injuries and joint or tendon problems.
- Tensing your muscles calls for some coordination and management, focusing on the stretching muscle to properly target it without overdoing it. In any case, start without putting excessive stress on your muscles, and gently and steadily increase the applied pressure.
More Benefits After 40
Isometric exercises build strength and endurance. It is very important for you if you are older than 40; it helps you preserve muscle strength and flexibility that you had on your younger days.
One of the biggest benefits to be had from doing isometric exercises is that they provide you with the highest amount of muscle activation.
Muscle activation refers to your muscle’s recruitment of motor units and the more motor units you can recruit, the better and stronger your muscles will be.
Over a long period, this means that your muscles will live up to their true potential and use as much of their mass as possible when engaged in physical activity.
Another thing that this type of muscle activation can do for you is to permanently train your muscles to work at their full potential. Isometric exercises help recruit motor units, and in the end that means having stronger muscles that can work a lot harder.
After you have injured muscles or joints, especially after you have gone through surgery, your muscles need time to heal. However, that does not mean that your muscles need to rest all that much.
Isometric exercises are a great way to rehabilitate your muscles and joints slowly without causing them too much strain. They are especially good for people who are in the process of recovering from joint problems.
This is because isometric exercises do not require the movement of your joints, therefore you can strengthen your muscles while not putting your joints at risk.
This also means that isometric exercises are ideal for people who suffer from bone issues or people who are elderly and can’t handle very intense exercise anymore.
Increases Muscle Size And Strength
Part of the reason as to why isometric exercises are vital for strengthening muscles is because of the increased tension that your muscles experience during isometric exercises.
When your muscles stay tensed for a prolonged period there are various chemicals and compounds which stay in your muscles, things which make them grow.
The longer you tense the muscles, the lower the blood flow is, and the longer these muscle growing factors will stay within the walls of your muscles, therefore making them grow more.
It is shown that doing a high number of contractions will increase muscle strength. It is also shown that holding the contractions for longer will help to increase muscle mass.
Isometric exercises involve flexing your muscles and pushing against an immovable object, therefore strengthening your muscles with minimal movement and effort.
Regular isometric training can actually strengthen your muscles by up to 5 percent every single week, up to 40 percent in a 10-week period.
Saves Your Time
Cardiovascular exercises, body weight training, and weight lifting all take a long time if you want to see actual results. The same is not the case for isometric exercises.
Engaging in this type of activity gives you big results in terms of muscle growth without taking away all of your valuable time
Doesn’t Require Equipment
Another great part about isometric exercises is that they don’t require any equipment to do. You can perform these exercises with just your own body.
These exercises can actually be done by pushing your muscles together, such as when you press your palms together really hard. Isometric exercises can be done with a wall, a tree, a chair, the floor, and best of all, with your own body.
You Can Do It Anywhere With A Lot Of Space
You can engage in this type of exercise in your home, at the park, in the gym, or even in your office at work. Since you don’t need any real equipment in order to do these exercises, it makes them very versatile. Even just sitting in your chair at work and flexing your abs counts as an isometric exercise.
Trains All Body Parts
The next thing that you will really enjoy about isometric exercises is that they help to target all the major muscle groups in your body.
Since isometric exercises involve pushing your muscles against an immovable object, it means you can train every muscle in your body.
As long as you have a solid thing to push against, which can actually be yourself, you can train every muscle in your body. Even better than that is the fact that you can train specific parts of your muscles.
Something else that is really fantastic about isometric exercises is that they help to increase flexibility.
There are certain isometric holds such as a squat, which can greatly help to give you a more flexible range of motion. When you squat, your own body, plus gravity too, acts as resistance towards your leg muscles, therefore it counts as an isometric exercise.
When you squat, going as low as you can go will keep increasing your flexibility, especially the longer you hold the position for.
Stretching out your muscles increases flexibility and since isometrics involve stretching to a certain degree, they help make you more mobile and flexible.
Something else that isometric exercises can help with is to increase your mental health. As is the case with all exercises, isometric exercises make your brain react a certain way. Physical activity causes your brain to release chemicals known as endorphins.
These chemicals are the things in our brains which produce the feelings of happiness, joy, elation, and everything else that feels good.
Without endorphins we wouldn’t be happy and would be more or less empty sacks of meat consisting of depression and anxiety. Physical exercise, for reasons we won’t get into, release these endorphins and make us feel happy.
Therefore, people who suffer from anxiety and depression can find a certain level of relief in exercise. Doing isometric exercises can actually help you get rid of depression, anxiety, and other mental problems that are related to feelings of sadness, agony, or stress.
Isometric Stretching Negative Sides
Reduces Muscle Endurance
Isometric exercise does not pump much blood into the muscles as compared to weight training, thereby potentially reducing muscular endurance.
Slow Down Muscle Response
The static contraction can decrease the speed of the muscle response. This would in turn slow down your athletic performance.
Not Very Exciting
The isometric exercises can prove to be boring as they just require pressing against a still object for few sets. This makes it dull and action-less.