Is the stretch reflex a real thing

I’ve heard when you are trying to lengthen a muscle, the stretch reflex could be activated and the muscle will contract to counterbalance the stretch.

So supposedly you should only stretch for a few seconds at a time, rest for a few seconds, and do that for about 10-15 cycles rather than hold a stretch for a constant 20-30 seconds.

Is any of that true? I don’t know what is true and what isn’t with this subject. Does holding a static stretch work or do you need to do short intervals of stretch/relax to avoid activating the stretch reflex?

It’s real. You do need to hold a stretch for more than 20 seconds for flexibility.
Go into the stretch just to the point of feeling it. After a few seconds, the muscle should relax and you can go a bit deeper.

Hard stretching will not warm up muscles and can decrease strength and power done before a workout.

But I’m confused.

Should I stretch for 2 seconds, then relax for 2 seconds, and do that cycle 15 times for a 30 second stretch?

Or can I just hold the stretch for 30 seconds straight?

Or are you implying you stretch and hold for a few seconds, then stretch a little more for a few seconds, then hold for a few more seconds at a longer stretch, etc. and keep doing that for 30 seconds total?

My goal is to lengthen muscles that are too tight and short.

20-30 seconds straight. There’s little to gain going beyond.

What happens if you hold it longer than 30 seconds? Like 2 minutes? Does it do damage, or is it just useless?

Also what if you do 2 sets of 30 seconds each on a muscle group? is that better than 1 set of 30 seconds, or does it not matter?

So should you stretch, then pull the stretch more, then more for the entire 30 seconds which would make the stretch more and more intense for the 30 second duration? Or should you just hold the stretch steady the entire 30 seconds?

How many times a day should you stretch? I’ve seen 1x a day, I’ve seen 4x a day. But I’ve also seen some claims that you should stretch each muscle group 5 times during a stretch session, which could be 20 total stretches a day on that muscle group. That sounded like overkill to me. I once noticed I had tight hamstrings, so I started stretching them once a day and within a week I had more mobility. I didn’t need to stretch them multiple times a day.

Thanks for your replies.

I’ve always stretched once a day, each muscle group once. Generally, if you hold a stretch too long, the muscle will start to tighten.
Just go into the stretch to the point of feeling the stretch, go deeper when the muscle loosens but NEVER force a stretch.

What happens if you hold a stretch to the point of pain? Is that a bad idea because of potential muscle tears?

When I stretched my hamstrings, it was painful but as I did the stretch more, the same stretch wasn’t painful. Before I started stretching my hamstrings I had trouble bending over and picking things up off the floor. Now that isn’t an issue.

Pain is a warning of damage. You may have just gotten lucky. Don’t push your luck(or the stretch). Slow and steady applies for the long term.
Also, never bounce a stretch, the reflex will kick in to protect the muscle and you can easily tear something.