See What Really Happens to Your Muscles When You Don’t Stretch
Think regular stretching is overrated? Think again. A recent video featuring anatomy teacher Gil Hedley, Ph.D. takes a new and most interesting approach to visually demonstrating the importance of stretching.
The benefits of regular stretching are well documented, and known to be important to a person’s overall well being, especially as we age. Nonetheless, many still neglect to adequately stretch, leaving their muscles in a state of painful stiffness, brought on by the accumulation of “fuzz.”
What is the “Fuzz?”
As our muscles contract and relax, their surfaces slide past each other and other body parts. Stretching helps to keep these muscle surfaces moving and sliding in a smooth manner, allowing us to achieve a fuller range of motion. Conversely, when we fail to stretch, fibers form along these surfaces, growing thicker and thicker over time. These fibers are what Dr. Hedley calls the “fuzz.” This “fuzz” accumulates every night as we sleep, but may also form due to a lack of movement.
In this dramatic video Dr. Hedley dissects human muscle tissue, plainly revealing the “fuzz” to his viewers providing visual evidence of the serious consequences that stem from neglecting to stretch. As he visually demonstrates, the “fuzz” can range from a minor layer that is easily loosened by a finger, to a thick band, which requires a scalpel to separate.
Thin layers of “fuzz” have only existed for a short amount of time, but when a scalpel becomes necessary, it reveals that it has been there for a longer time. “Fuzz” can accumulate in all parts of the body, but fortunately, we can take steps to eliminate it as well.
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Eliminate Your “Fuzz”
As Dr. Hedley reminds us, we must take responsibility for our “fuzz” and melt it away over time. Essentially, movement — especially stretching — is the best way to do so. By stretching, and gradually increasing our range of motion over time, these fibers can be broken apart and dissolved. Whether it has accumulated from a lack of activity and stretching, or due to a mobility-limiting injury, by working to increase our range of motion we can reverse this process. Since the “fuzz” represents the passage of time, it is akin to the aging process. The accumulation of “fuzz” amounts to a gradual solidification of the body, but on the other hand, we can effectively reverse the aging process by eliminating it.
If you do not stretch regularly, now is a great time to begin. A few minutes of stretching in the morning can help to melt away the previous night’s accumulation of “fuzz,” and ongoing stretching efforts can reverse long-term buildup. It is also important to stay loose and mobile over the course of the day, and not to neglect injured parts of the body. As always, it may be beneficial to seek advice from a physician or other professional before beginning a therapeutic stretching regimen, especially if you experience any pain. Even if you have been inactive for a long period of time, starting a stretching routine can increase your range of motion and clear away your “fuzz.”
Watch the Video
While incredibly interesting, please be advised that the video contains images of human subjects designed to accompany the lesson on human muscle tissue.
Derek is a technical writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the health care field, having first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author on a number of textbooks in the medical field, ran a nuclear cardiology licensing course, and has written a variety of other pieces from online training courses to medical software manuals. Derek pursues his personal interest in health and wellness by playing multiple sports and running marathons. An insatiable traveler, he spent 16 months working and living abroad while traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.