Benefits of stretching
Stretching helps improve flexibility. It keeps your muscles healthy by increasing blood flow to them. Stretching warms up your muscles and prepares your body for the exercise routine you’re about to do. Including stretches in your warm-up helps decrease the chances that your muscles will strain or sprain during exercise.
Types of stretches
Four types of stretches are:
Dynamic stretching is when you stretch while taking a joint through a full range of motion. An example is swinging a leg up and letting it swing down and behind you. This kind of stretching is typically done before an exercise routine because it gets the body moving.
This is not to be confused with ballistic stretching. Dynamic stretching is controlled and fluid. Ballistic is erratic and jerky. This type of stretching is not typically recommended.
Static stretching is when you hold a stretch that’s challenging but not painful for about 20-30 seconds. An example is sitting down on the floor with your legs straight and reaching for your toes. This stretches the hamstrings. This kind of stretching is typically done after an exercise routine because it’s believed to decrease muscle soreness.
Passive stretching is when you have assistance from either a thing or a person to hold you in place during a stretch. An example is using a corner of a wall in your house to stretch the pectoralis (chest) muscles.
Active stretching is when you stretch a muscle while you’re actively contracting the opposing muscle. An example is sitting on the floor with your legs straight and flexing your toes towards you to stretch your calves. Here you’re contracting the front of the legs while stretching the back of the legs.
Stretches can be done before, in between sets, and/or after your workout. Make it a part of your routine for overall wellness.