There is no better way to start your day than with stretching, because this is beneficial not only for the body but for your mind as well. There are different stretches you can do to help maintain flexibility and overall physical fitness.
What is Stretching?
Stretching is a type of physical activity wherein muscles or tendons are stretched or flexed to improve one’s flexibility and elongate muscle fibers.
Stretching is mostly beneficial for your muscles because it keeps it strong, healthy, and flexible. Doing stretches also improves the circulation of blood in your muscles. Stretching is beneficial because it:
- Improves your posture
- Prevents injuries from occurring
- Reduces soreness after exercise
- Prepares your body from stress and tension that it might get after exercise
7 Different Stretches
Different stretches that can help you in different ways. Stretches can either be
- Dynamic, which involves motion
- Static, which does not involve motion
Here are 7 different stretches you can do to improve overall physical performance
As the term suggests, this kind of stretching simply requires you to move around and stretch within your limits. Dynamic stretching involves controlled leg and arm movements that gradually increase in speed and reach, and gently improves your range of motion. You can use dynamic stretching as a warm-up before dance or any martial arts class.
Examples of dynamic stretching:
- Controlled leg or arm swings
- Torso twists
- Walking lunges
Consider ballistic stretching like dynamic stretching, but faster. The idea behind doing it faster is to force your muscles past the limit of their range of motions. It is also worth noting that doing ballistic stretching too intensely can lead to muscle strains and other muscle-related injuries.
Examples of ballistic stretching:
- Standing upright and repeatedly bouncing down to reach the toes.
- Sitting down while your legs are wide apart and forcing yourself to reach for your toes by bouncing down.
This type of stretching involves getting your muscle or group of muscles in a stretched position and holding or maintaining the position for a couple of seconds. Static stretching is one of the different stretches that is commonly done by dancers, martial artists, and some athletes.
Examples of static stretching:
- Seated butterfly stretch
- Cobra pose
- Overhead triceps stretch
You do an active stretch by holding a stretch position for a couple of seconds using the exclusive strength of your main, engaged muscles. When doing an active stretch, you do not need assistance from another person, machine, or any external force.
Examples of active stretching:
- Lifting your leg high while sitting down and holding the position by only using your leg muscles
- Various yoga poses
A passive stretch is done by being in a relaxed stretched position and maintaining that position with the help of another person, exercise equipment, and other external force. This type of stretching is most useful for people who are recovering from muscle injuries and is also best for cooling down after strenuous exercise.
Examples of passive stretching:
- Using a resistance band to hold your leg up while laying down
- Stretching your legs apart using the assistance of a stretching machine
- Doing splits and using the floor as an aid which helps keep your balance
The resistance of muscle groups by tensing the stretched muscles for 7 to 15 seconds makes isometric stretching more effective than passive or active stretching alone. Isometric stretching helps straighten the tense muscles as well as decrease the pain that is commonly associated with stretching.
Examples of isometric stretching:
- Wall sit
- Single leg bridge
- Reverse plank hold
PNF or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is more of a technique than a type of stretching. The PNF stretching is a combination of passive and isometric stretching, which helps achieve maximum static flexibility. PNF is more of a rehabilitation treatment for people who are neurologically impaired, as well as to treat orthopedic conditions.
The PNF stretching is a technique that relies on muscles being stretched to its limits. This is done up to the point where the body triggers a response called a myotatic reflex. This reflex relaxes the muscles to prevent injuries.
The most common PNF techniques include:
- Get into a passive stretch position.
- Stretched muscles must be isometrically contracted for 7 to 15 seconds.
- After tensing the muscles, relax it for about 2 to 3 seconds.
- Immediately proceed to another passive stretch position that will further stretch the muscle than the previous passive stretch.
- Hold the second and final stretch for 10 to 15 seconds.
- In finish, relax the muscles for 20 seconds before proceeding to another PNF technique.
- This PNF technique is quite identical to the hold-relax technique. However, it involves two isometric contractions, first is the main muscle (agonist) and then the opposite muscles (antagonist).
- Isometrically contract the agonist muscle for 7 to 15 seconds.
- Relax the initial muscle. Then immediately proceed by tensing the antagonist muscle for 7 to 15 seconds as well.
- Finally, relax the muscles for 20 seconds before doing another PNF technique.
- This PNF technique is the most complicated and risky among the three. It is commonly practiced by professional athletes and dancers who have higher control of their muscle stretch reflex.
- It uses dynamic and ballistic stretches together with static and isometric stretches.
- The hold-relax-swing technique is similar as the hold-relax technique. However, instead of using a final passive stretch, you’ll be using a dynamic or ballistic stretch as a substitute.
Stretching may not be as demanding as the actual exercise itself. But, if stretching is not done properly, your body can absorb all tension and stress. You may also injure yourself, so avoid these stretching mistakes.
Stretching has many benefits, and it is not just something you should do only before an intense workout. You can tailor fit the 7 different stretches into your daily routine and do it as often as you can.
Always keep in mind to take extra safety precautions before doing any of these stretching methods. Be safe and happy stretching!
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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.