Muscles and their connective tissues are protected by a sensory organ known as the Golgi tendon organ (GTO), located in the junctions of muscles and their tendons. The GTO responds to increased muscle tension or contraction exerted on the tendon, by inhibiting further muscle contraction. When a muscle is stretched or pulled, this natural protective mechanism signals the central nervous system and causes the muscle to relax, protecting the muscle from damage. When the tension is very extreme, its relaxing effect on the muscle can prevent an injury. You can activate your GTO—begin by holding your initial stretch for 5 seconds, then back off for 5 seconds. Now, resume the stretch as you normally would, holding for 20-30 seconds.
• Hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds, or for a total of 3 diaphragmatic breaths
• Inhale to prepare for a stretch and exhale slowly while lengthening the muscle
• In the Outdoors, be well aligned and evenly balanced on the terrain
Tips to remember:
• Never stretch a cold muscle. Always warm up for at least 5-10 minutes before stretching. On chilly days, extend this warm up to 15 or more minutes.
• For best results, activate the Golgi Tendon Organ or GTO: Hold a stretch for five seconds, release for 5 seconds, then execute the stretch again.