Flexibility training primer

by Chi Long on 2017-01-10 Comments Off on Flexibility training primer

Stretching can be grouped into two categories: Static or dynamic

Static stretching refers to stretches performed with no movement, while dynamic stretches are performed with movement such as swinging or bouncing.

StretchingClass_Chi_Oct10-9041Within these 2 main categories, there are many different stretching techniques, each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, the key is to
match the right type of stretching to the goal you are trying to achieve. For example PNF stretching is very effective for gains in flexibility, but not so useful for warming up or preparing the body for activity. Dynamic stretching, however, is excellent for warming up.

Below is a list explaining different techniques, their advantages and disadvantages :

4 types of static stretching

Static stretching : the muscle group is extended slowly to its maximal point and held for 20-60 seconds so the muscle can lengthen. Static stretching is a safe and effective form of stretching with limited threat of injury. It is a good choice for beginners and sedentary individuals.

Passive or assisted stretching : similar to static stretching however another person is assisting you to increase intensity. This can help attain a greater range of movement, but carries a slightly higher risk of injury due to the fact that an outside force is controlling the intensity of the stretch.

Active stretching : involves holding the stretched muscles with the opposing muscle group. The contraction of the antagonist muscles helps relax the stretched muscles. Active stretching is useful for rehabilitation, and a good form of conditioning before moving onto dynamic stretching. It is quite difficult to hold the positions for long, usually 10-15 seconds. Eg lying on your back, bringing the leg up to 90 or beyond, the quads are stretching the hamstrings

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, also referred to as Contract-Relax, is one of the main techniques taught at the FLEX: TRAINING classes at HPH.

StretchingClass_Chi_Oct10-9132PNF stretching : Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, also referred to as Contract-Relax, is one of the main techniques taught at the FLEX: TRAINING classes at HPH. This form of flexibility training involves both the stretching and contracting of the targeted muscle group. The area to be stretched is positioned so that it is under tension. The individual performs an isometric contraction for 5-10 seconds of the targeted area against a resistance — an object or partner. The muscle group is then relaxed and further stretched. The cycle is repeated 2-3 times. It is excellent for increasing flexibility, as well as improving muscular strength and stability around the joint.

4 types of dynamic stretching

Ballistic stretching : usually used for athletic drills, repeated rapid swinging or bouncing movement is used to stretch the muscle group. It’s an aggressive form of stretching used to force the body part beyond its normal range of movement. The stretched muscle has little time to adapt to the stretched position, and repeated bouncing can trigger the stretch reflex. It is now considered an outdated form of stretching. However exercises can be safely performed if done from low velocity to high velocity.

Dynamic stretching : slow and controlled movement patterns (swinging or bouncing) that mimic the exercise or sport to be performed. An example of dynamic stretching would be a sprinter doing long, exaggerated strides to prepare for a race, or a gymnast performing high leg swings. Dynamic stretching is sport specific and prepares the muscles for the task ahead, it is an excellent warm-up as core temperature is increased due to constant movement, power and performance is also enhanced as you work on flexibility.

Active isolated stretching (AIS) : developed by Aaron Mattes, also referred to as the Mattes Method. The muscle group stretched is held for 2 seconds a time, the movement is done repeatedly for several repetitions, each time exceeding the previous stretch point by a few degrees. It is performed in sets with a number of repetitions, like a strength work out. It works by contracting the antagonist muscle group, which in turn makes the stretched muscle group to relax.

Resistance and Loaded stretching: a form of dynamic stretching that both contract and lengthen a muscle at the same time. A muscle group goes through its entire range of motion while under contraction. It is about strengthening and stretching the muscle group. These forms place high demands on the musculo-skeletal system and are recommended for well conditioned or professional athletes.

A combination of dynamic and static stretching can have a big impact on increasing flexibility and improving performance. A regular flexibility training program is the only way to permanently improve your flexibility and range of motion. Dynamic stretching is ideal prior to your sport to prepare the joints for movement and muscles for optimal activation. Static sustained stretches are excellent post-activity or in a session of their own for maximal increase in flexibility.

Chi Long

Flexibility training specialist at Clinique Sportive HPH

Chi LongFlexibility training primer