What Types of Stretches Are There?
We are going to focus on two types of stretching: Static stretching and Dynamic stretching. This section gives you information on Dynamic stretching, including what it is, what the benefits of it are and when the best time to do it is.
These are moving stretches that often mimic the motion that will eventually be performed afterward during the workout session. This type of stretching is good for both cooldown and warm- up sessions. Using dynamic stretching as part of the warm-up will help prepare and loosen muscles for the demand that will be placed on them.
They will lower resistance in the muscles you are about to work out, improve oxygen delivery, increase metabolic reactivity, and may result in you having a more effective workout. A workout may even consist of a series of dynamic stretches and nothing more! Dynamic stretches as a cooldown will circulate blood, help clear waste products from the muscles, and allow for better circulation as your heart rate comes down, all which prevent pooling of blood from happening.
How long should I do dynamic stretches? Hold the end-point of each position for just one or two seconds. Keep moving through the set. Most of the dynamic stretches will either have you moving your extremities through a range of motion, one side at a time, or alternating sides. A ballpark number of repetitions is in the range of 8 to 12 on each side, or 10 repetitions total if the stretch is targeting both sides of the body. The number of repetitions of course depends on the movements being performed. Rest as needed between sets—you may be surprised how much work these movements can feel like if you’re working through tight muscles.
How hard should I push dynamic stretches? Perform these static stretches slowly, and don’t go so far into them that it hurts. Go into the range of motion until you feel a light stretch, and push it from there as you feel comfortable. Never bounce or push so hard that it’s painful.
Research currently recommends an active warm-up routine that mimics the upcoming workout. Dynamic stretching fits right into that. The dynamic stretch movements not only work your muscle and joints through your full range of motion, they will also increase circulation and heart rate and get you mentally and physically ready for the upcoming workout.
When to Stretch
Dynamic stretching can be done any time you can fit it into your schedule. It can serve as a warm-up before a workout or a cooldown after. It can also be performed as an active recovery workout, light workout, or recovery day. Performing some of the dynamic stretches after a long day of travel or a long workday will help to balance your muscles out and will probably help you feel a lot better. Beginning the day with some dynamic stretches will help you start off on the right foot and get you moving. They don’t have to be intense. They don’t have to even take more than a few minutes. But they will set the tone for your day and help keep your body and muscles feeling good.
In summary, understanding why stretching is beneficial, determining how to incorporate it into your program, and learning the stretches for each muscle group, are important aspects of a complete training program. You can be the strongest and fittest person in almost every way, but your weakest link maybe hurting the quality of your movement. This applies to both daily living activities and recreational or competitive endeavors. Making sure your freedom of movement is allowing for optimal efficiency, ensures that you’re getting the most from your workout and recovery sessions.
A note to those who are hypermobile: If you are someone who is naturally flexible or even excessively flexible, stretching doesn’t really need to be a priority for you. It may feel good, and doing it for recovery or after long periods of inactivity is still a good thing. Studies have found that higher rates of injury can occur in those not flexible enough, as well as in those who are too flexible. In addition, joint stability and mobility are inversely related. If you or someone you are working with falls into this hypermobile category, my suggestion is to focus on developing stability and strength over flexibility.