Not intending any dubious Internet purchases here.
But . . . not being too familiar with muscle relaxants other than that they help with spasms . . . could I (or a professional athlete) take them before working out/playing so as to loosen the muscles and alleviate the risk of pulls, tears, whatever, without all that tedious stretching?
Also, on a related note, I gather from the prominent role that muscle relaxants play in my pharmaceutically-related incoming spam, people are misusing them. What is the bad or illicit use for muscle relaxants? The one I suggested? Or do they get you loopy too?
This is purely personal experience, but yeah, you can get kind of loopy. Once I accidentally took a double dose of Zanaflex (I thought I hadn’t taken my morning dose, so I took it again), and it really spaced me out. I didn’t care for it the effects, but I could see how some people might like it.
(I am a massage therapist specializing in deep tissue work with athletes. Not that it makes me an expert, but now you know the lens through which I am answering. )
Stretching before working out does not relax the muscles. In fact, it actually gets them twitching and ready to work. It gently increases blood and oxygen flow to the skeletal and muscular systems so they can do the hard work of exercise. Stretching also helps to gently reorganize the muscle fibers so that they are less likely to cramp due to their structural alighnment within the muscle group. Tearing is another matter: in small, microscopic scale, we WANT tearing when working out - repairs in tiny tears of muscle fiber is building bulk and strength.
A muscle relaxant is very likely to make to injure yourself while working out: either through gross clumsiness (dropping a weight on your foot) or through inadvertant injury (not noticing when you’re moving into a pain area and therefore hyperextending or overdoing it.)
This is a very common misconception, so let’s erase that one while we’re here. ligaments and tendons should NOT be loose. Ever. They are the guide wires of the skeletal system. They need to be taut and strong so your joints move smoothly without pinching nerves or moving blood vessels, bones or other anatomical features to the wrong place. The only time a healthy person can loosen them his/herself is through a gross hyperextension of a joint (moving the joint far beyond its passive range of motion - during a slip and fall, for example.) This is doing structural damage to your body and creating instabilities which could lead you to injure yourself further down the road. Most of the time, a stretched ligament or tendon will repair itself (pretty slowly) but if it doesn’t, surgery may be in order.
Stretching primarily trains your nervous system to allow your muscles to extend to their full length. So while muscle relaxants might allow you to become more while you’re using them, they won’t help you while you’re off. Stretching, on the other hand…
FYI, static stretching (stretch and hold for 30 seconds) weakens muscles, so it’s maybe not the best warmup out there.
I don’t know if the exact mechanism is well understood, but it takes about an hour for a muscle to come back up to full strength after static stretching–see here for a little bit of detail (and I swear his site had the report with the time to recovery, but I can’t find it). So yeah, it’s not a great idea to statically stretch the muscles you’re about to use.
On the other hand, this means that you can improve your lifts by statically stretching the muscles that oppose the motion. Be careful, though: it’s not always immediately obvious which muscles are in opposition. Statically stretching your upper back before you bench will decrease your strength at the bottom, but statically stretching your calves and hip flexors will make it easier.
Yes, sorry, I was in a little shock. So you’re referring to stretching before lifting as opposed to after…the things that I’ve read about stretching say that it increases your muscle strength over the long term. But I can definitely see how stretching beforehand can decrease the weight you can lift.