The Importance of Stretching for Leaner Muscles

Founders of The Bar Method in Hoboken explain.


As a hardcore yogi and #barrebabe, I understand the importance of stretching in order to look and feel my best, however I find many of my friends and readers tell me they skip it before or after working out.  When it comes to The Bar Method, I appreciate that the class strategically fits stretching exercise in between the tucks and pulses to compliment the toning movements.  I spoke with Founders of The Bar Method Hoboken, Lucy and Melissa, to find out just how important stretching is during a barre class and in life.

"Stretching causes “Z-line ruptures,” which is the same way strengthening works," explains Lucy.  "When you do a “strength” move such as lifting a weight, you cause tiny muscle tears that stimulate your muscle to build denser and stronger fiber as it repairs itself. Passive stretching, it turns out, causes the same kind of tears by pulling on muscles, while at the same time strengthening the stabilizer muscles that are maintaining the pose."

Because your muscles are warm and more flexible after an interval sequence in barre, stretching at that time helps them to lean out and is imperative to help your body change muscle shape and gain flexibility.  I asked them to break it down by example and if you're a Bar Method enthusiast like me, you'll appreciate these examples.  When you place your leg on the bar during "stretch at bar" you can now credit the source of the burning sensation you feel to tiny ruptures in your hamstring muscle fibers, similar to those that occur from strengthening.

Another example is when you turn your body to the side for the “waist stretch,” your obliques, triceps and back muscles are also being toned as you stretch them. Meanwhile, the heat generated by this work is serving to get your muscles warmed and limbered up for the thigh-work to follow.

Whether you frequent The Bar Method, practice yoga, run or love kickboxing, stretching is a crucial part of exercise.  I love understanding the science behind how it works and hope this post motivates you to include more stretching in your exercise routine as well!