Stretching is important. It helps boost the range of motion. Range of motion describes how far a joint or body part can move. If you try to raise your arm parallel to your body, but can barely get it to a 45 degree angle, you have a more limited range of motion than the person who can raise a straightened arm straight up in the air with the upper arm touching the ear. To have good range of motion, you must have good flexibility. Stretching helps improve flexibility to boost the range of motion and aid in preventing injuries.
There are several types of stretching.
While there are four types of stretching, static, ballistic, dynamic and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation—PNF. Static stretching can also be either active, isometric or passive. Passive static stretching uses an outside force or applied force to aid you in the stretch. You may be the outside force, such as when you grab your ankle and tug for a quadricep stretch. Active static stretches are ones you do with your own muscles, like reaching above your head and bending side to side. Isometric static stretching involves tightening the stretched muscles.
Each type of stretch is different.
Static stretching is an type of stretching where you ease into a position and hold it. One example is the quadricep stretch, where you bend your knee, grab your ankle and pull your foot to your bottom. Dynamic stretching involves moving the joints through their range of motion by actively tightening them. One example is a walking lunge. PNF is performed with two people, normally in a clinical setting for therapy. Ballistic stretching is an active stretch like dynamic stretching. One example may be touching the toes, but using a bouncing motion to get further down with each bounce. It’s no longer recommended for training as it can cause injury.
Stretching is important before and after a workout.
You need to include stretching before and after every workout. Dynamic stretching is normally the type of stretching used for a warm up. It increases the range of motions, makes your muscles more pliable and less prone to injury. It boosts the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles, ligaments and tendons and prepares them for the work they’re about to do. Static stretching afterward changes that now extremely flexible muscle back, cools them down and relaxes them. It helps reduce the risk of lactic acid in the muscles and reduces the aches and pains in the muscle tissue.
- You’ll boost your athletic performance when you stretch prior to the activity. Dynamic stretches are best for this benefit.
- Stretching helps strengthen and stretch muscle groups that can lead to imbalance. You’ll have better alignment when you stretch and that means better posture.
- If you want to calm your mind and relieve stress, a good stretch can help by releasing that tension in the tight area. As you stretch, focus on relaxation.
- Whether you have headaches or backaches, you can get help from regular stretching. It helps to increase the range of motion in the back and reduce the potential for straining by increasing strength.