Slow The Stretch

When you elongate a muscle using the adaptation method, you approach it the way you would approach a skittish wild animal, moving very gently and gradually, taking care not to "startle" it into contracting. To achieve this, you move extremely slowly to minimize the response of the speed-sensitive stretch receptors. And, you stretch only a tiny bit at first, so you barely stimulate the length-sensitive receptors. You then hold completely still in this mildly stretched position until all the receptors adapt, and the already weak signals they are sending to the spinal cord subside to an even lower level. Once this occurs, you slowly move a tiny bit further into the stretch and wait patiently again. If you repeat this sequence carefully, you can gradually move into a very deep stretch without ever activating your stretch receptors much, so you don't set off a reflex muscle contraction, and you never feel a strong sensation of stretch.

The key to the adaptation method is your mental focus. You have to be extremely attentive, sensitive, and patient to make it work. Here's how to apply the adaptation method to Prasarita Padotta-nasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend). Stand in front of a chair with your legs spread wide and your knees completely straight. Bend forward just far enough to rest your hands on the chair back or chair seat without feeling any stretch at all in your legs. Now tilt the top of your pelvis forward as slowly as you can. The instant you sense even the tiniest stretch anywhere in your legs, stop and hold as still as a statue. Neither deepen

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