Stretching 101

When it comes to stretching, there is always some question or confusion as to when the best time to stretch is and how to execute each stretch properly. Before we go into more detail, let’s start off with some basic benefits of stretching. Proper stretching can increase flexibility, help correct muscular or postural imbalances, prevent injuries, and enhance one’s overall health and fitness levels. The three different types of stretching techniques that we’ll talk about can all be very effective in achieving optimal flexibility if used correctly and in the proper progression. They are myofascial release, static stretching, and dynamic stretching.

Myofascial release, also known as foam rolling, can be used before or after a workout. By using self-myofascial release, you can increase blood flow to the muscles, decrease muscular tension, and rub out any knots before workouts. It can also be used to decrease tension after a workout in the cool down process. Basic technique for foam rolling is to roll over a muscle for 30 seconds or maintain pressure on a knot or tender spot for at least 30 seconds or until tension is released. Remember, if you also plan to static stretch or dynamic stretch before a workout, always foam roll before hand as a warm up to those stretches.

Static stretching can also be used before or after a workout, but only after foam rolling as to allow for greater extensibility in the muscle. This is the most traditional form of stretching and has shown to significantly increase overall flexibility. Static stretching is used to decrease tension in the muscles and allow for a greater range of motion during a workout. After a workout it also helps to release tension and allow for more blood flow to the muscles, which will enhance recovery. A typical static stretch should be performed 1-2 sets and held for 30 seconds on each stretch.

Dynamic stretches are suggested for use before any athletic activity and should only be performed if no glaring postural distortion patterns are present. You should also show a good level of flexibility, core stability, and balance before dynamic stretches. It should also be used only after myofascial release and static stretching to ensure a good level of muscle extensibility. Examples of dynamic stretches are lunges with a twist and prisoner squats. Each dynamic stretch should be performed 1 set of 10 repetitions for 3-5 exercises.

Below are examples of each of the previously mentioned stretches:

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Posted by on March 21, 2013. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry