Stretching is one daily activity you do not want to skip. Its health benefits are irrefutable—including good circulation and balance. Here are the three basic types of stretching:
Static (Passive) Stretching: Stretching by holding a single position with another part of your body or with the help of a partner or apparatus. For example: Dannielle Holder, pilates instructor, suggests contract- relax stretching. “Hold a stretch and push and pull for a set number of seconds, then push your stretch further and repeat.”
When to do it – Static stretching should be done at the end of the day/workout, because it decreases the energy and capability of muscles by stretching them to their limit, making it difficult to then perform strength exercises.
Ballistic Stretching: Stretching with small, quick movements that gradually increase. For example: gently bouncing one leg while standing on a stair step to stretch the calf muscle when each time the heel drops slightly lower off the step.
When to do it – Ballistic stretching can be done anytime after the body is warm, such as during a workout.
Dynamic Stretching: Stretching by moving broadly and with low intensity. This improves coordination, speed and agility, reducing the risk of injury. Holder believes that “dynamic stretching is more beneficial.” For example: lunging across the floor or pedaling a bike.
When to do it – Dynamic stretching should be done before physical activity as a warm-up.
The benefits of stretching contribute greatly to a person’s quality of life. Obviously, it is beneficial to stretch after a workout to fend off soreness, but it does more than that. Circulation improves, muscle, tendon and joint injuries are prevented and range of motion improves (a key factor in balancing, meaning you will fall infrequently and probably move for longer in your life).
Stretch it right
“Your functional reality of strength and flexibility needs to be realized in order to make people feel comfortable in their bodies,” Holder says. And stretching can go terribly wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing. Do not hold your breath. Do not bounce in your static stretch. And do not aim for pain. Pain while stretching is a sign that you are going too far and need to ease back.
Exercise that increases flexibility:
- Barre studios