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How come when I do my stretching exercises sometimes I feel looser and other times I just seem to get tighter?


No one knows for sure how stretching actually works. There's some evidence to suggest that stress applied to a muscle in just the right way causes it to lengthen or stretch. Other researchers say stretching increases flexibility because the muscle itself is elastic. With a constant stretch, the muscle will relax and increase in length.

It's also possible that using one set of muscles keeps the opposite group of muscles from contracting at the same time. This causes the opposing muscles to relax, loosen, and stretch.

We're not sure about the effect of other factors on stretching. Maybe age, gender, and number of hours in one position each day make a difference in how far the muscles will stretch. More studies are needed to answer these (and other) questions.

Michael V. Winters, PT, MPT, et al. Passive Versus Active Stretching of Hip Flexor Muscles in Subjects with Limited Hip Extension: A Randomized Clinical Trial. In Physical Therapy. September 2004. Vol. 84. No. 9. Pp. 800-807.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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