Benefits & Types of Stretching

Stretching is exercise used to elongate and rest muscles which in turn improves muscle elasticity. It is included in most forms of physical exercise as it is also a way to warm up before a workout.

Slow deliberate stretching increases the blood flow to the muscles and makes them conducive to a workout and increase in mass.


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You can do different types of stretching. Stretching is a big part of sports medicine and all professional athletes and sports people use stretching for many different purposes. Some of the main stretches used are dynamic stretching, ballistic stretching, passive stretching, active stretching, static stretching, PNF stretching and isometric stretching.

Ballistic stretching is stretching used when people use stretches for injuries. This form of stretching is vigorous and if not done correctly, can result in injuries. The important factor to keep in mind is that you should warm up properly before doing ballistic stretching. Dynamic stretching is the next type of stretching. Dynamic stretching is the stretch you need to be doing if you often feel stiff after prolonged periods of inactivity. These stretches are used by athletes to build strength into their muscles. Dynamic stretching is often used as a part of warm up activities. For best results, dynamic stretching should be combined with static stretching. Static stretching is best done when muscles are still to warm up. Therefore it is recommended you do static stretching and follow it up with dynamic stretching for the perfect warm up. Static stretching works in increasing muscle length.

Another type of stretching is active stretching. Active stretching is when you stretch a muscle with no external force and hold it in stretched form with the help of the strength of the opposing muscle needed to stretch that muscle. Active stretching is meant to increase flexibility and strengthen muscles. Many of these stretches are a part of different yoga poses. Active stretches tend to be difficult to hold for more than 10-20 seconds at a time. This type of stretching is also called static active stretching.

Passive stretching is also known as static passive stretching or relaxed stretching.

As the name suggests, it is somewhat the opposite of active stretching. In this form of stretching, a muscle is stretched and held in that stretched form with the help of some apparatus or a partner. Some of the apparatus that can be used are stretch bands or mechanical devices. This form of stretching is used for relaxed stretching and to relieve spasms and muscle tension. Passive stretching is also used as a part of stretches done to cool the muscles down after a workout.

Isometric stretching is another popular form of stretching done by sportspersons to improve flexibility. Isometric stretching is usually combined with passive stretching to further build strength into the muscle when it in the stretched state. When you are doing a passive stretch, if you increase the length of the muscle without changing your position, it becomes an isometric stretch. For instance, if you are using a chair to support your arms while stretching your back, it becomes a passive stretch. During that stretch if you contract your forearms or arms, it becomes an isometric stretch.

Another type of stretching is PNF stretching or Proprioceptive Muscular Facilitation stretching. This form of stretching is a very popular flexibility training tool. These stretching techniques can be active or passive and are believed to generate muscular inhibition. A partner is very important in these stretches. The partner stretches the muscle, a little at a time, so as to effectively deal with the discomfort. This is a passive stretch. On a count, the person who is stretching then contracts the muscle being stretched and holds it there for some time. Then, the muscle is relaxed. In the next stretch, the muscle is able to stretch a little more than the earlier stretch.

It is important that you know the right ways of stretching the muscles as any wrong moves could lead to tears and other muscle injuries.

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