I’ve brought my kids to their soccer games many times. I had to get up early on Saturday morning because they had to do one hour of stretching and warm-ups obligatorily. I never understood the meaning and justification of that stolen sleep hour.

It’s assumed that a muscle has an ideal length from which it generates a more efficient action and is better protected against injury. If you don’t stretch the muscles before doing exercise, it seems you won’t get enough speed. It’s assumed that the muscle is shortened, contractured, hyper-viscous and that we need to wake it up, stretch it to its optimum length where it theoretically is more efficient and robust. Stretching, they say, softens the reflex response of stretching, a muscular base tone maintained by the neural activity responsible for responding to the stretching of the muscle fibers (responsible for the classic patellar reflex). The stretching would soften that reflex activity allowing more muscle length during the exercise.

Biomechanics is very complex and it’s beyond me when I try to understand what physically happens in a muscle when it’s at rest or moves. There are many factors that influence the muscle work. Until recently, biomechanics explained everything, but it seems there was a factor that was ignored: the sensation of stretching. The stretch limit is set by not only the biomechanical properties, but also the sensation of “I can tolerate it up to this point”.

Maybe the stretching allows greater muscle length. The induced biomechanical changes may have an influence, but perhaps the most crucial is that the perceptual tolerance threshold of the individual has changed, has adapted. Really we don’t stretch the muscle, but the tolerance to stretching. At least it’s a factor to consider. The same happens with joint stiffness. In addition to the physical resistance to movement, to action, there is the perception of stiffness.

The perceptive factor is fundamental in the action.

Biomechanics should always include a person who internalizes the motion, a brain that sets limits based on evaluations.

There is no agreement in the goodness and necessity of stretching. It seems that the warming-up, the gradual contact with the scenarios, the biomechanical, neuronal and psychological adaptation to future actions is beneficial.

I’m still wondering what was the point of that damn stretching hour on Saturday morning … In our time, we didn’t stretch.

We were always prepared to play soccer with any object that, more or less, rolled when kicking it during the school breaks.


>Pain and inaction


The function of perception is to focus, care for a theoretical or real content and propose an interaction. Perception is a proposition with a variable load of motivation to act in a certain way, with a purpose and significance (positive or negative).

Pain is a perception whose purpose is to force the individual to act defensively. If we contact with a noxious foreign agent or status, pain will force us to avoid it, to flee-fight. If the noxious agent or state is internal, pain pushes us to inaction, to suspend the planned activities.

Standing, walking, bending … are actions that the individual requests to obtain purposes. The brain knows the intention, the desire of the individual and selects its proposal. If the individual’s application doesn’t show any threat (real or theoretical) to physical integrity, the brain activates silent motor programs perceptively. We get up, we bend, we take things … with nothing relevant in the execution. The individual’s request has received the brain’s approval. The action has been painless because the brain’s evaluative action has approved it without hesitation.

If there is a vulnerability assessment (theoretical or real) in an area of an individual’s request for a given action-purpose, it can generate a cerebral fear of damage. The brain doesn’t approve it and perceptively projects fear (fear of injury) and pain (deterrent penalty) while it selects a defensive motor program with inadequate muscles. The individual perceives both cerebral projections: fear and pain, and proves that the action is inadequate, slow, painful, stiff …

Pain has fulfilled its deterrent function. It has forced inaction. If despite the pain the individual decides to continue with its purpose, the pain will increase until it achieves its goal: to compel surrender. It stops acting in the individual’s desired direction and contributes to the inactivity of an area that is considered vulnerable.

Cerebral action of selecting and projecting pain perception in an area also contains a forecast of which actions of the individual are required to turn off the pain. If the brain requires a drug, there will be no relief until the individual performs the action to take it. If the brain requires relaxation, the individual must do it in order to make the pain go away.

Taking an analgesic is an action, something more than introducing a single molecule in the body. The brain calls for actions. Food doesn’t take away the hunger with molecules. Eating is an action that the brain requires by the projection of hunger perception. If you obey, the brain turns off the appetite.

We mustn’t always accept the brain’s proposals. We must learn to value them as rational and sensible or otherwise and act accordingly.

If the brain asks for inaction by an alarmist assessment, we must defend with arguments our willingness to act and get the brain to mute the perception of fear of harm (pain) and to organize the motor gesture with economic and quiet programs.

– Don’t move, don’t do it!

– Come on!