Yes, you can use flexibility to get stronger!
Most of us stretch using the old fashioned method we learned in gym class. The classic example is the good ole sit and reach. We reach as far as we can until we can’t go anymore. What stops you from reaching your toes or farther is the stretch reflex.
The stretch reflex is what kicks in to keep you from hurting yourself. If you’ve never touched your toes before and you reach down to do so, your body is going to protect itself and not allow you to do it.
So, how do we fool it?
If you reach a full stretch, and then tense the muscles being stretched, what will happen is the stretch reflex in the muscle will not resist nearly as much…for a little while. So, after relaxing the muscle, you will be able to stretch a little bit further. I have helped a friend who had never touched her toes touch them for the first time using this technique.
How does this make you stronger?
Whenever you contract the muscle you are making it stronger. When you do a bicep curl, you are contracting the bicep to move the weight. If you stop the weight in the middle of the rep, you are still contracting the muscle, this is an isometric contraction.
Isometrics is a very powerful tool for strength development.
To develop strength-flexibility, stretch as far as you can, then flex the stretched muscle.