There are many different types of stretching. Stretching is commonly used as an injury prevention technique for muscles, tendons and ligaments. Short-term benefits to stretching include:
- Improving running times
- Rehabilitating injuries
- Increasing joint range of movement
- Decreasing the risk of soft tissue injuries.
Here is a quick breakdown of the different types of stretching so you can decide which one would benefit you.
Types of Stretching and When To Use Them:
Statistic stretching requires holding limbs or joints just past the point of comfort for a prolonged duration. Static stretching is most beneficial post-exercise. After exercising, muscles and other soft tissue structures are more compliant due to the increased blood flow to that area. Static stretching doesn’t always increase range of movement, but can provide immediate relief from muscular discomfort.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF):
Contracting the muscles against a force, where no movement occurs, is known as an isometric contraction. PNF or “contract-relax” stretching involves tapping into the muscles “sensory organs” which are part of the nervous system. Hold the joint just before the point of resistance and press in the opposite direction. For example: a PNF stretch for the pecs, would involve isometrically contracting your shoulder/arm forward. Hold this contraction, relax completely and allow the joint to move a little further. Hold this position and then begin contractions again. This type of stretching has shown the most benefit for improving a joints range of movement after exercise.
Dynamic stretching involves moving a limb continuously through a range of movement at a controlled pace. This type of stretching is most beneficial prior to commencing exercise as it increases blood flow to the muscles and surrounding tissue. Dynamic stretching has been shown to improve performance in running, jumping and muscle endurance.
Ballistic stretching is similar to dynamic stretching, but instead of moving continuously through range of movement, the joint is held in place at the end range and “bounced” by the contracting and relaxing of surrounding muscles. This type of stretching has the most potential for injury if not performed properly. Ballistic stretching, before exercising, can reduce tendon stiffness which can be beneficial for people performing “explosive” exercises, such as sprinting or throwing.
How Long Should I Hold A Stretch?
To gain the most from stretching, the general rule is four times/sets for the recommended amount of time. It is best to avoid alternating different types of stretching and finish one type before moving on to the next.
- Static: 10-30sec hold
- PNF: 6-8 seconds for contractions, with a 30 second static stretch
- Dynamic: 30sec – 60 sec continuous
- Ballistic: is traditionally performed over “blocks” of 60 seconds
Avoid bringing a joint past the point of comfort. This is known as a pathological barrier, or place where your limbs will naturally stop. Sometimes you can push them a little further but stretching should feel nice! Any increased pain felt during a stretch should be ceased immediately.
At Boost Health Collective, our Myotherapists, Physios and Podiatrists all incorporate a range of stretching techniques into treatments and as part of home care plans to empower you to help yourselves so you can get back to doing what you love.