Healthy Living

Optimal Muscle Length and Strength

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Optimal Muscle Length and Strength

As humans, we utilize our muscles constantly to perform a multitude of tasks from breathing to lifting heavy objects. Our muscles are utilized during movement and non-movement. Muscles combined with other structures such as bones, ligaments, and tendons provide us with the ability to move functionally. Training our muscles to have optimal length and strength will promote proper biomechanics, thus preventing injury. So, what is an optimally trained muscle? Our muscles can be a combination of four different lengths and strengths:

  • Long and Strong
  • Tight and Strong
  • Long and Weak
  • Tight and Weak

When we achieve long and strong muscles we have primed our bodies for success. This type of muscle is developed by training for both strength and flexibility. Strong and tight muscles are most commonly found in weight lifters, bodybuilders, and individuals that do not focus on flexibility. These muscles are developed by over strengthening muscles without proper lengthening. Over use injuries are common among these type of individuals. Long and weak muscles are most commonly found in yoga practitioners. These muscles are made by excessively lengthening underdeveloped muscles. Weak and tight muscles are by far the worst muscles to have. This combination can lead to injury and long term issues. These muscles are developed by underutilization and inactivity. An example of a proper routine to develop optimal muscle would be as follows:

  1. Dynamic stretching (actively moving muscle through rage of motion)/Foam Rolling - this allows for proper warm-up of the muscles which is beneficial in preventing injury.
  2. Strength exercises - strengthens muscles to help the body move properly and stabilize joints.
  3. Static stretching (holding stretch for a period of time)/Foam Rolling - lengthens the muscles after they have been warmed up properly which reduces chance of injury and improves range of motion.

The goal is to produce a body that moves properly and remains injury free. Remember LONG and STRONG for the win!

Keep on moving,

Shane McFee M.S., PES

HealthSource of Fairlawn