When you think about gaining muscle, stretching is probably not the first thing that pops into your head. But did you know that stretching plays a critical role in building muscle?
Every muscle in your body is enclosed in a bag of tough connective tissue known as fascia. Fascia is important for holding your muscles in their proper place in your body.
But your fascia may also be holding back your muscle growth. Think for a moment about your muscles. You train them and feed them properly. They want to grow and will grow but something is holding them back. They have no room to grow!
Because fascia is so tough, it doesn’t allow the muscle room to expand. It is like stuffing a large pillow into a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won’t change regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat because the connective tissue around your muscles is constricting the muscles within.
The best example of this is the calf muscle. The lower leg is riddled with fascia because of its tremendous weight-bearing duties in the body. It is because of this fascia that many trainers have great difficulty developing their calves.
The solution: stretching.
Using the pillowcase example from above, imagine you can expand the size of the pillowcase by stretching it. Suddenly, the pillow within has more room and will expand to fill that new space.
By stretching your muscles under specific conditions, you can actually stretch your fascia and give your muscles more room to grow.