Stretching regularly helps develop flexibility, the range of movement at a joint or joints. Tight muscles move and extend less easily and are more prone to injury, and regular stretching can ensure your muscles remain supple and at the correct length. It may happen that your muscles begin to shake when stretching, which means you might not get as much benefit, so this is generally best avoided. There are a number of reasons your muscles may shake while you stretch.
The degree of stretch experienced by your muscles is monitored by receptors called muscle spindles. When a muscle is stretched too far, too fast or to its flexibility limit, the muscle spindles cause the muscle to contract. This contraction can manifest as muscle shaking. To stop this from happening, move slowly and gradually into your stretches. If your muscles begin to shake, you reduce the stretch slightly until the shaking subsides.
Challenging Body Position
Some stretches can be challenging, especially if you have poor flexibility or weak muscles. You may find that you have to pull or push yourself into a specific position to stretch the intended limb. If you have to work very hard to achieve the desired stretching position, your muscles may shake with exertion. If you experience shaking when stretching, choose a more comfortable exercise that does not require you to contort your body so intensely.
The contractions in your muscles are regulated partially by chemicals called electrolytes. These electrolytes ensure that your muscle fibers contract and relax efficiently. Sweating, dehydration or a poor diet can mean your body is low in electrolytes, and this may cause your muscles to shake while you stretch and may even cramp up. One of the main electrolytes responsible for muscle contractions is potassium -- commonly found in bananas. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruit and drinking enough water helps ensure your body is adequately supplied with potassium and the other all-important electrolytes.
Too Much Caffeine
Coffee, cola, chocolate and tea all contain caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant. In addition to stimulating and increasing your heart rate, caffeine can cause muscle tremors if consumed in excess. Monitor your caffeine intake, and if you find that you have a sensitivity, reduce your caffeine intake in the hours leading up to the time you intend to stretch.
- The Anatomy of Stretching: Your Illustrated Guide to Flexibility and Injury Rehabilitation; Brad Walker
- Delavier's Stretching Anatomy; Frederic Delavier, et al.
- Principles of Anatomy and Physiology; Gerard J. Tortora
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.