Feels good, right? Feels even better if you hold it a bit longer. There’s a reason holding a stretch longer feels so good. Let’s examine how long you should hold a stretch…and why.
Golgi Tendon Organ
Within the tissues of your muscles fiber is a sensory organ known as the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO). Its job is to communicate information from your muscles to your brain. Its branching structure lies near the junction of a tendon with a muscle.
The GTO fires when you stretch your muscles, and also when a tendon is stretched by a contracting muscle—when you weight train for example. If it senses too much tension is being placed on the muscle, it will inhibit that exertion to prevent injury.
When you’re stretching a muscle, the GTO acts to reduce muscle contraction. This reduction allows a muscle to relax; for the stretch to become deeper. In turn, a well-stretched muscle is a pliable, happy muscle. In addition to being less prone to cramping, the muscle develops a greater range of motion (ROM). Making activities like touching your toes and reaching overhead much easier.
How Long Should You Hold A Stretch?
It takes a little while for your brain to get the message from your GTO, though. For people in their prime, holding a stretch for 30 seconds is generally recognized as enough time for the muscle being stretched to lengthen—whereas the older individual is going to want to hold that stretch a bit longer. For people 50+ I recommend a full minute. It may sound like a long time, but believe me, your body will thank you.
Read more about stretching! Click: How Long Should You Hold A Stretch
The Golgi Tendon Organ in depth: Golgi Tendon Organ
Check out the difference densities of fat versus muscle. Click: What You May Be Carrying Around
BIO: Based in Santa Barbara, CA, Karen Robiscoe is a certified Corrective Exercise Specialist and personal trainer through NASM. DBA Kardio with Karen, she is additionally certified as a Group X instructor and Spin teacher with Fitour, a licensed Livestrong Cancer Survivors instructor by YMCA, and a fully accredited Aquatics teacher with AEA.