Handbook to 7 Different Types of Stretching

It’s evident that the fitness and wellness sector has undoubtedly seen phenomenal growth in the past decade and in the near future, the industry is only expected to witness a worldwide unprecedented success. This tremendous transition has been driven largely by behavioural changes and the dissolving of false beliefs among individuals.

In the contemporary world, fitness is not about creating a perfect figure or shrinking your body. On the contrary, it seems to be more associated with ensuring a healthier lifestyle.

Fitness isn’t a specific size, it’s not a precise body type, it isn’t a certain look yet Fitness is a necessity for each and every person. As healthcare expenditure increases annually, to tackle any health issue people continue to prioritize their time and invest their money in fitness and wellness.

Is Stretching Important? 

Daily exercise is indeed the key to optimizing health and ultimate fitness. One of the core components you must aim to incorporate into your regular fitness routine is “STRETCHING”. Contrary to an old-school belief, stretching does not make you weak; in fact, it strengthens you. Stretching is the key ingredient of playing or practising sports. Stretching effectively and efficiently keeps your muscles flexible, strong, and active!

Stretching is an integral part of any physical therapy. Stretching is just as beneficial to your body as a tough workout. Leading fitness experts claim that it is the element of exercise that most individuals overlook. What’s the perfect way to prep your body for a great workout? Do you also engage in high-intensity workouts right away?

If you’re doing so, pause for a moment and reconsider. Before any workout, make sure to stretch. There are no shortcuts to growth. Stretching improves the way your muscles respond to exercising. Stretching routinely is therefore incredibly important.

4 Advantages of Stretching

Stretching as a practice provides a plethora of advantages:

  1. Stretching positively affects an individual’s physical and emotional well-being.
  2. Stretching on a regular basis corrects posture flaws, improves long-term mobility, boosts athletic performance, and uplifts your mood instantly.
  3. Stretching tends to increase the range of motion enormously.
  4. All athletes stretch as helps with soreness after exercise and prevents any possible injury. While gradually raising the body temperature, creates an ideal environment for the body to engage in the upcoming workout that requires muscle flexibility.

What is ROM (Range Of Motion)?

Range of motion refers to a joint’s capacity to move in a specified direction and over a specific distance.

Stretching entails, a lot more than merely touching your toes. In addition, there are different types of stretching techniques1, each with its own set of benefits. Doing a bit of each will hinder a healthy lifestyle. As a result, identifying the several types of stretching is necessary to determine when a specific type of stretching is perhaps the most appropriate.

7 Different Types of Stretching

Did you know stretches can be classified in seven different ways? If you didn’t know, you’re not alone. Don’t worry, we’ve got all the answers. Despite the fact that there are numerous ways to stretch, current practice involves seven primary types of stretching: Static Stretching, Dynamic Stretching, Ballistic Stretching, PNF Stretching, Active Stretching, Passive Stretching, and Isometric Stretching.2

1. Static Stretching:

When it comes to different sorts of stretching, the most prominent type is static stretching. Static, as the name itself implies, is stationary- no movement. This stretching focuses on bringing an isolated muscle or even a specific muscle group to its peak position. During a static stretch, you generally hold a single position for a certain length of time, usually between 20-30 seconds. These are primarily performed as a post-workout exercise during a cool-down phase to boost stamina, facilitate recovery, reduce stiffness, and improve flexibility and range of motion.

However, Static stretching is frequently condemned as being unhealthy or harmful. Its ability to change the range of motion is fairly limited. Yet, Static stretching can be beneficial if executed effectively with appropriate application, intensity, and timing.  With the right application, this type of stretching reduces the risk of injury and also increases strength.

Examples of general static stretching exercises are as follows:

  •  Butterfly stretch
  •  Cobra pose
  • Triceps static stretch

2. Dynamic Stretching:

The importance of stretching in fitness and working out is often undervalued by a majority of people, especially beginners. A solid workout can transform your entire workout. Warming up with static stretching, on the other hand, is a major mistake. Warm up with dynamic stretches instead.

Dynamic stretching3 must be incorporated into your workout as it enhances blood circulation and relaxes your muscles. It is not just about holding a stretch for a certain period of time, it’s about taking your body through ranges of motion for warming up prior to your workout. Dynamic stretches are regulated motions that warm up your muscles, ligaments, and other connective tissues in preparation for a workout.

Unlike static stretching, Dynamic stretching gets your muscles warmed up and helps to ease you into your workout. This type of stretching improves flexibility, mobility, agility, and acceleration.

Here are some incredible dynamic stretching exercises4 to carry your workout to the next threshold:

  •  Leg pendulum

How to Do:PENDULUM SWINGS

  • Trunk Twists

Trunk Twisting

3. Ballistic stretching:

Ballistic stretching is the type generally practised to prepare your body for an intense and tough workout or physical activity. Ballistic stretching combines bouncy, quick, and sudden movements to stretch the desired muscle group prior to the core workout.

This is not the same as dynamic stretching. Don’t confuse the two. This type of stretch is highly recommended for professional athletes. Beginners are more likely to strain or pull their muscles. These stretches are usually performed by swinging your body into multiple positions. The stretch reflex is frequently triggered by high-speed and high-intensity movements, which provide momentum to carry the body segment through a range of motions.

 In terms of harmful effects, ballistic stretches are often associated with slight injury risk. Excessive stretching might harm the ligaments and tendons that encircle your joint. Ballistic stretching, when performed appropriately, is just as effective as static stretching in terms of increasing range of motion.

Following are a few examples of ballistic stretching5:

  • Toe Touch
  • Single-Leg Stretch

4. PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) Stretching:

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation 6(PNF) stretching is a much more advanced but underappreciated technique of stretching and flexibility training. Basically, PNF stretching involves tightening the opposing muscle to the one that’s being elongated over a series of exercises to increase muscular mobility.

PNF Stretching allows a stiff muscle to perform its function. One of the most effective strategies to enhance flexibility is to stretch in a contract-relax motion7. According to several recent studies, It’s among the most effective approaches of stretching for building perfect flexibility and enhancing passive and active range of motions.  

What is PNF Stretching?

Although PNF stretches can be practised individually, stretching along with a companion makes it a lot more effective. This type of stretching is associated with three different phases listed below:

  •   Contract- relax the contraction of the target muscle
  •   Hold- relax the contraction of the muscle
  •  Contract- relax with agonist contraction

5. Active Stretching:

 Active stretching is described as stretching a muscle without any external sources. This type of stretching relies upon the strength of our own muscles to stretch another muscle, rather than using external force, equipment, or gravity.

 When you stretch actively, you achieve a range of motion without using any helping hand. For example, to stretch while standing, raise your leg with your knee kept straight.

6. Passive Stretching:

The most recommended method of stretching for beginners is passive stretching. This is a stretch wherein you hold a specific position for a specific period of time while being supported by external factors. The external force may include objects like a floor, a wall, gravity, or even your own hands.

 Passive stretching usually relies on gravity to drag your body weight further into the stretch. This form of stretching, like the majority of others, promotes flexibility while reducing the chance of injury. For example, to stretch the hamstring while standing, raise your leg while holding your foot.

7. Isometric Stretching:

Isometric stretching is a sort of static stretching that incorporates muscle tension. Everything engages throughout isometric stretching, yet nothing moves. While performing a stretch, you apply resistance with the same muscle groups you are stretching.

Deep isometric stretching reduces tendon stiffness, improves stamina as well as lowers blood pressure. Stretching in this form commonly does not worsen pain, but rather functions as an analgesic to reduce it. 

Isometric Stretch - Deep Glute

Key Takeaways

Should you stretch or not? What are your thoughts? Which stretching exercises do you prefer? Stretching only once today isn’t going to miraculously improve your flexibility and mobility. The success of your workout is not determined by muscle soreness how sweaty you are or how early you get an hourglass shape. Consistency is the key. Slowly but steadily, you will reach your health goals. Nevertheless, Grab your yoga mat, stretch your entire body and be unique in your own way!

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FAQs

1. Name the 5 different stretching exercises.

Ans. 5 different stretching exercises are as follows:

  1. Dynamic
  2. Active
  3. Passive
  4. Static
  5. PNF Stretching

2. Which is the best kind of stretching?

Ans. Static stretching is the best kind of stretching. 

3. Which is the best time to do stretching?

Ans. The best time to do stretching is after a heavy workout. 

  1. Bernhart, Cassandra M. “A review of stretching techniques and their effects on exercise.” (2013). ↩︎
  2. Kay, Anthony D., Jade Husbands-Beasley, and Anthony J. Blazevich. “Effects of contract–relax, static stretching, and isometric contractions on muscle–tendon mechanics.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 47.10 (2015): 2181-2190. ↩︎
  3. Behm, David G., and Anis Chaouachi. “A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on performance.” European journal of applied physiology 111 (2011): 2633-2651. ↩︎
  4. Mann, Douglas P., and Margaret T. Jones. “Guidelines to the implementation of a dynamic stretching program.” Strength & Conditioning Journal 21.6 (1999): 53. ↩︎
  5. Mahieu, Nele Nathalie, et al. “Effect of static and ballistic stretching on the muscle–tendon tissue properties.” Detection And Approach Of Intrinsic Risk Factors For Achilles Tendinopathy 75 (2007). ↩︎
  6. Voss, Dorothy E. “Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.” American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 46.1 (1967): 838-898. ↩︎
  7. Shin, Seung-Sub. “Immediate effects of various contract-relax techniques on the peck force and range of motion of knee extension-A pilot study.” PNF and Movement 16.2 (2018): 229-238. ↩︎

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