What Is the Most Common Type of Stretching?
Did you know there’s more than one way to stretch? If you break it down into the nitty-gritty, it’ll leave you with about six to seven types! During your professional stretching session at Stretch Zone, we will only focus on the common types you may be more familiar with.
Keep reading to learn all about the most common types of stretching, the best time to do them, their benefits, and how to perform them safely.
Two Primary Types of Stretches
Although there are several types of stretches out there, the common types that people perform are static and dynamic stretching. Here’s the difference between the two:
Static stretching – Involves holding stretches without movement
Dynamic stretching – Involves active movements to prepare your muscles for exercise
There is an ideal time to do each kind of stretch to give your body the most benefits during physical performance. Doing active stretches when you should be doing static ones (or vice versa) can be ineffective and possibly throw you off your game.
When Should You Perform Static Stretching?
People perform static stretches at the end of a workout or as part of a cool down. Doing this allows your muscles to loosen up after physical activity while helping to increase your flexibility and range of motion. Health professionals recommend static stretches after a workout because your muscles will be easier to move after being warmed up and finished with physical activity.
It’s especially crucial to do static stretches after a tough workout. Most health professionals recommend holding the stretch for no more than 20 seconds, but you can hold it longer to achieve a deeper stretch. This is also good to do if you’re extra tight in a certain area, as it can help you gain more flexibility.
Frequently Performed Static Stretches
Adding static stretches to your routine can help reduce tightness in certain muscle groups. There are many types a person can do, and they mainly target a specific part of the body. These stretches can allow for a complete full-body stretch to help you move and feel better in no time.
- Neck stretches
- Leg stretches
- Arm stretches
- Chest stretches
- Wrist stretches
- Side stretches
- Abdominal stretches
- Hip flexor stretches
The Benefits of Static Stretching
Static stretches can benefit your body and mind in several ways. This is why health professionals want you to do these exercises frequently! Once you do, you will notice some incredible changes to your body. Some of these include:
Increased Flexibility and Range of Motion
We save static stretches until the end of a workout because stretching warm muscles helps increase your range of motion. Having an optimal range of motion is important for helping you move with ease and comfort, whether you’re exercising or doing everyday activities.
Many forms of research have shown that static stretching effectively reduces muscle stiffness. Muscles that are tight or overworked can cause discomfort because of decreased circulation and lactic acid buildup.
Stretching can provide you with more than just physical benefits. As you release tension in your body during a stretch, you will also start to feel calmer. This is why it’s a great activity to do when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Better Blood Flow
If you’re seated all day, the blood flow in your muscles will begin to decrease. Static stretching after physical activity or a gentle warmup can help improve this flow so your muscles can recover quicker. It may even protect you from heart disease and stroke!
Improved Physical Performance
With a better range of motion, less stress, and improved blood flow, you may notice a significant boost in your physical performance. This can give you a greater advantage when playing a sport or simply make getting through the workday much easier.
Precautions During Static Stretching
As with any physical activity, you should take some precautions for your safety and the effectiveness of the stretch. Believe it or not, a person can do a stretch wrong and accidentally hurt themselves because of it! Below are some helpful tips to follow for your safety.
Stop if it Hurts
Stretching shouldn’t hurt, and if it does, stop immediately. A few factors could cause aching in the middle of a stretch, such as:
- You’re doing the stretch incorrectly
- You’re pushing your body too far
- You have an underlying health condition
It’s normal to feel slight discomfort during a stretch, especially if your muscles are extra tight. Ignoring intolerable aches might cause more tissue damage, so make sure to reduce your range and slowly build it up if this occurs. When in doubt, ask a professional stretch practitioner for help!
Stretching is supposed to be a relaxing activity, so you want to use slow and gentle movements. You should not be bouncing or jerking your body in the middle of a static stretch, as this can cause you to accidentally stretch your muscle too far. Being gentle is especially important if you’re recovering from an injury.
Breathe Through the Stretch
Many people mistakenly hold their breath while they’re in the middle of a stretch, particularly a deep stretch. Doing this will only cause more tension in the body and make the stretch not as effective. Controlled breathing can not only help you hold a stretch longer, but it can also relieve stress from your body.
This is crucial for those with very limited flexibility or if you’re trying a new stretch for the first time. You never want to jump into something complicated, and you definitely don’t want to overdo it. Gradually increasing your range of motion and flexibility is the best and safest way to go.
You can begin with a few gentle stretches under the supervision of a professional and add more reps and moves as your flexibility increases.
Warm Up Before Performing Static Stretches
You’re more likely to improve your range of motion (and less likely to injure yourself) if you perform static stretches on warm muscles. They’re usually more relaxed in this state and can move farther than “cold” muscles. This is what helps increase your range of motion and flexibility.
When Should You Perform Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretches are also known as warmups since they prepare your muscles for physical activity. With that being said, they should be reserved before starting any exercise routine. Your dynamic stretches should closely mimic the activity that you’re doing to warm up those specific muscles you’ll be using.
Frequently Performed Dynamic Stretches
Depending on the type of sport or physical activity you’re doing, the dynamic stretches during your warmup can vary. For example, runners frequently jog in place or do other moves that mimic the motion of running.
Some of the common moves done during a dynamic stretch are as follows:
- Twists and rotations – mainly trunk rotations and twists
- Swings – arms and legs
- Kicks – forward, backward, or sideways
The Benefits of Dynamic Stretches
Dynamic stretches offer slightly different benefits than static stretches, which is why you perform each one at different stages of your workout. When done properly, you can enjoy some of the following advantages.
Enhances Explosive Performance
According to some studies, athletes who perform dynamic stretches before playing their sport could see improvement in their running or jumping. These active movements can help improve leg extension power, resulting in athletes running faster and jumping higher. It’ll also be much easier for your body to move without muscle tightness holding you back!
Decreased Injury Risk
Doing a physical activity when your muscles are warmed up may reduce your risk of getting an injury. This improves strength and flexibility, allowing you to move better without pushing your muscles too far. Some researchers also believe that stretching sessions can reduce the effects of delayed-onset muscle soreness.
Improved Body Awareness
Since dynamic stretches mimic the movements you’ll be performing during your workout, it’s beneficial for improving your body awareness. For example, a swimmer who does arm circles before a match has already prepared their arms for the movements and patterns of swimming.
Wakes the Muscles and Nervous System Up
There’s a good reason why health professionals recommend some gentle dynamic stretching exercises in the morning or during your afternoon slump. These movements wake up your muscles and nervous system, preparing them for what’s ahead. Nobody performs their best when they’re feeling sluggish.
Prepares you Mentally for Workout
As previously mentioned, stretching offers plenty of mental benefits along with the physical ones. Even if your body is prepared for a race, sporting event, or workout, your head may not be. Dynamic stretches will help you mentally prepare for the workout by performing activities similar to what you will be doing.
Precautions During Dynamic Stretching
You’ll also want to take some extra safety measures while performing dynamic stretches. Since you’ll be moving during these stretches, correct form and technique is especially crucial. Follow some of these tips if you want to perform dynamic stretches safely and effectively.
Avoid if You Have an Injury
Unless you’re medically cleared by a doctor or healthcare provider, you shouldn’t be doing dynamic stretches if you have an injury. You could risk causing more aches or inflammation of the area if you attempt to stretch it. Pulled muscles or other injuries are best left alone until they heal.
Use Proper Technique and Form
Like static stretching, proper form and technique are also important when performing dynamic stretches. You’ll want to use controlled movements and avoid rapid bouncing, as this can cause you to stretch a muscle or tendon too far and too fast.
Do Your Warmup No More Than 30 Minutes Before Physical Activity
Your muscles cool down shortly after warming up, and that can affect your performance. Make sure to do your dynamic stretches as close to the start of your workout as possible to prevent this from happening. This is especially important during the colder months.
Keep Warmups No Longer Than Five Minutes
A good warmup shouldn’t be too long. Going longer than about five minutes will start to fatigue your muscles during the process, which can affect your performance. For the best results, start out slowly and then gradually pick up the pace. The goal is to get your muscles warm for the workout – not to be sweaty and out of breath before the workout!
Make Sure to Target All Major Muscle Groups
This goes for both dynamic and stretching. You don’t want to stretch only one area, even if it is tighter than others. This can lead to muscle imbalances, which can further increase the risk of injury and more body aches. During your dynamic stretching session, make sure to get a full-body warmup and work both sides equally.
If you have a particularly tight muscle, you can always stretch it a little longer to get the relief you need.
How Can a Professional Stretch at Stretch Zone Help Your Performance?
Here at Stretch Zone, we use a special technique along with patented equipment to help gradually increase your range of motion. This method involves a stretch practitioner pulling the affected area in a smooth and controlled manner rather than forcing it. This allows the muscle to fully extend so you can get the full benefit of the stretch.
We also have straps on our stretching tables to allow us to stabilize and isolate muscle groups that you want to be targeted specifically. This allows that area to relax so you can get a full stretch. Our patented strapping system also allows your stretch-practitioner to work on improving the stretch so you can receive all the benefits from it.
Enjoy a Professional Stretching Session at Stretch Zone Today!
The professionals at Stretch Zone are more than happy to help you feel and move better with a relaxing stretching session. These moments are for you, and we always encourage you to let us know if something causes discomfort. Stretch Zone is for everyone, and our stretch practitioners will do everything to help improve your performance.
We have Stretch Zone locations located all around the country to help as many people as possible get the necessary stretching exercises they need to live a healthy life. Find a location near you, and you can learn how the Stretch Zone method can make a difference in your life!