etching is considered as one of the most important parts in warm up session, as well as post-workout relaxation. The most obvious benefit of stretching is improving flexibility and range of motion in your workout. An effective flexibility training program can improve your physical performance and reduce your risk of injury as well. Different kinds of training call for different types of stretching. Knowing all 7 types of stretching will help you determine the appropriate type of your particular fitness program.
Static stretching is the most common form of stretching for improving overall flexibility. Static stretching exercises are those stretches that you are told to hold for so long, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds. When you think of stretching, it is usually this type of stretching that immediately comes to mind. However, many physical therapists consider static stretching much less beneficial than dynamic stretching for improving range of motion for functional movement, including sports and activities for daily living.
Passive stretches are achieved by using mechanical devices, the assistance of gravity, or a partner. Muscles around the joint undergoing a passive stretch remain inactive. For example, you may stand with your back against a wall while your partner will apply a stretch on your limbs in an attempt to gain a greater range of motion in an area that is difficult for you to do. Passive stretching relieves muscle spasms, helps reduce muscle fatigue, and soreness after a workout. In addition, passive stretching exercises can be done in the rehabilitative setting when an individual is too weak to perform the stretch himself.
Dynamic stretching is a powerful stretch requiring many movements as you perform the stretch to improve functional range of motion and mobility. Although dynamic stretching requires more thoughtful coordination than static stretching, it is gaining favor among athletes, coaches, trainers, and physical therapists. For instance, a lunge with a twist is a dynamic stretching exercise that engages your hips, legs, and core muscles. Whether you are doing weighted lunges in the gym or lunging for a soccer ball, the muscles involved have already been engaged during your warm-up.
Ballistic stretching is popular among athletes for increasing the range of motion, which may be beneficial for their performances. Ballistic stretching forces a body part to go beyond its normal range of motion by making it bounce to a stretched position. While ballistic stretching may be beneficial for athletes, dancers, football players, martial artists, or basketball players, there’s a risk of injury. Ballistic stretching is not a highly recommended exercise for those who just want to stay in shape or improve flexibility because there is a risk of straining or pulling muscles.
ACTIVE ISOLATED STRETCHING (AIS)
AIS is a specific stretching program developed by Aaron Mattes over 30 years ago. His technique uses four basic principles:
- Isolate the muscle to be stretched
- Repeat the stretch eight to 10 times
- Hold each stretch for no more than two seconds
- Exhale on the stretch; inhale on the release
Each stretch is held for a maximum of two seconds in order to avoid the activation of the stretch reflex. Repeat each stretch eight to 10 times in order to increase the circulation of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscles being stretched. Breathing is an essential part to decrease fatigue in the muscles. If there is not enough oxygen, lactic acid is created. Lactic acid creates that sore feeling in our muscles.
Isometric stretching is a type of static stretching (meaning it does not use motion) which involves the resistance of muscle groups through tensing of the stretched muscles. For example, you have a partner to hold your leg up high while you attempt to force back your leg in the opposite direction. Isometric stretching is the safest and most effective method for increasing the joints’ range of motion, as well as strengthening tendons and ligaments while retaining flexibility. However, isometric stretching is quite demanding on the muscle tendons and joints, you should not perform more than once per day for a given group of muscles.
PROPRIOCEPTIVE NEUROMUSCULAR FACILITATION (PNF STRETCHING)
PNF stretching is one of the most effective forms of flexibility training for increasing range of motion. Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is a combination of isometric, static and passive stretching to foster a high level of flexibility. While PNF is ideal for improving range of motion, it is less practical because of the necessity of a partner. For example in hamstring stretch, you have to lie on your back with the right leg extended straight up into the air while your partner grasps your ankle and gently presses the leg towards your head to stretch the hamstring.