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Lengthen, Strengthen, and Stretch

anatomy cueing teaching May 27, 2019

Words are subjective. I’m sure you’ve tried to name a color, only to hear your friend say, “That’s not purple, it’s blue.” We associate different meaning to different words.

A “good workout” for one person means sweating, huffing and puffing until they feel sick. For others it means moving gently, feeling muscles trembling and always being in control.

Stretching is another one of those words. One of my favorite teaching tools is to ask my student what they feel? What’s working in their body? Not only does it give me information about whether they use the right muscles to perform the movement but it shifts their focus to what’s happening in their body. It connects their mind and body and makes them more aware of their movement.

After doing this for a while, I’ve started to notice a pattern. Many people described a feeling of activity in their muscles as stretching, when what’s happening is not necessarily a lengthening but a concentric strengthening, a shortening of the muscle. For me, the words stretching and lengthening were always synonymous. Although - I would not have described eccentric muscle work as lengthening, yet it is.

Using the words lengthening and shortening is a more accurate description of what the muscle is doing or should be doing and it helps with our cueing. When the mind has a good idea of what should happen it can tell the body what to do. That process is called motor control.

After all...

The image of turning the volume up and down will give you another tool to help with lengthening and eccentric muscle control.

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