So I haven’t posted in a while, as I was quite busy, but I got some time today so I thought I’d post something on a useful topic. The topic of stretching.
You see, stretching is one of the most important aspects of exercising. Stretching before and after a workout does have it’s benefits, but recent studies have also noted that it doesn’t have a lot of impact on improving performance or preventing an injury. Now here’s where it gets tricky, while it might be true, in a way, that stretches don’t impact how you perform, but that’s only if you do the wrong type of stretch for the type of exercise you’re gonna do or have done already.
There are Five types of stretching;
1- Static (Passive).
You see, all of the above stretches each have their own specific uses and benefits, just like anything, everything has its place. It’s up to us to know when and where that thing fits to make sure we get the best out of it.
So let’s get started with the proper usage of these stretches, yes?
1- Static – Static stretches are basically isometric holds, where a muscle is in a stretched position. Doing this type of stretch is not recommended before a weight training session as it has been known to decrease strength and power. It is often recommended that you don’t hold the stretch longer than 20-30 seconds. It’s main function is to maintain the elasticity of a muscle and is best done for flexibility. This stretch is often done using an external force, like a wall or using a partner to stretch a muscle beyond its active range of motion.
Example of Static Stretching – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhIsu4HIgIE
2- Active – Active stretch is basically a static stretch but instead of an external force, the agonist muscles are the one being used to hold the stretch. Basically you’re using the opposing muscle group to hold a stretched position. That muscle group is playing an Active role in that stretch. Active stretching removes force and its adverse effects that come from stretching a muscle. It stimulates and prepares muscles for use during an exercise, therefore, it’s best done pre-workout.
Example of Active Stretching – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeWQQ0uKOUs
3- Dynamic Stretching – In a dynamic stretch, you don’t hold the position of the muscle. You instead utilize muscle movement to improve performance in many sports that require explosive movement as the movements in a dynamic stretching session mimics the movements used in almost all sports and physical activities. It is used to improve your range of motion and body awareness. That’s is why many use dynamic stretching in activities like football, soccer, weight training, etc.
4- P.N.F. (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) – P.N.F. utilizes receptors to improve the neuromuscular responses of the body. It often includes both stretching and contraction of the muscle groups that are targeted. This particular stretch is also used as a rehabilitation tool. It improves muscular strength as well as increase flexibility, stability, mobility, coordination and neuromuscular control. I have heard of some cases, where there has been a soft tissue injury while performing this type of stretch, but that will only happen if you disregard the conditioning phase before it. You need to have a good warm-up session before performing any stretch (this is true for all types of stretches BTW, injuries only happen if you subject your body to an intense before getting the muscles ready for it).
5- Functional – This type of stretch (as the name states) is more functional. It is more applicable to athletes. It is a specific type of stretch that focuses on specific movements for specific activities and sports. According to the ‘principle of specificity’, strength, speed, coordination and balance are specific to a movement performed. Therefore, this type of stretch is performed based on the requirement of the athlete.
So there you have it. The five types of stretches and the optimal ways to utilize them. At least these are the ones I’m familiar with. As you can see, all of the above are useful, but only if you know how and when to apply them.
Some things to remember before performing any stretches;
1- Always warm-up before stretching.Warming up raises the temperature of your muscles, tendons and ligaments. It also increases your heart rate and blood flow. Sudden stretching can lead to muscle and ligament injuries as well as abnormal heart rate.
2- Always remember to breathe while stretching. Breathing not only regulates your blood flow and heart rate, it also helps relax muscles while stretching.
3- Stretching should not be painful, it should be a way to release tension and prepare muscles to undertake an intensive task.
4- Don’t hold a stretch for too long. Most stretches are often only best if held for 20-30 seconds max.
5- A stretching session should be a daily thing. A good stretching session is at least 15-20 minutes involving all major muscle groups.
6- There is another kind of stretching actually, but it’s not widely recognized as something that’s effective; Ballistic Stretching. This type of stretching doesn’t allow your muscles to adjust and relax in the stretched position and has a potential to tighten them up instead due to the bouncing movements performed in it. (Certain individuals do believe ballistic stretching to be useful in certain activities that require bursts of speed.).
Example of Ballistic Stretching – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1ZrxjYthWY
7- A good stretching session after workout can make you feel relaxed. But as mentioned above it doesn’t necessarily reduce the chances of injuries or muscles soreness that comes after an intense workout session.
Fun Post Trivia– The cover photo is an example of a Dynamic Stretch 🙂
That’s it! Hope you found my article on different stretches useful. Please like, share and comment, etc. etc.. and..Thanks for reading!