This is the most popular form of stretching. It is extremely effective for improving range of motion. Static stretching is a method of increasing your elasticity by slowly and deliberately lengthening a muscle to a fixed position. This position is usually one in which you experience mild discomfort. This position is maintained for a period of time. There is no research to support the length of time that is optimal to hold the position for optimum flexibility.
There is little risk of injury from static stretching. There is some indication that when performed after a workout, static stretching may help to reduce muscle soreness or stiffness.
Most stretching experts recommend lengthening the muscle to a point at which further movement is limited. At that point, hold the fixed position for a period of 20-30 seconds. Repeating the same stretch three to four times further improves flexibility.
Ballistic stretching is not popular and is rarely recommended in flexibility training. Bouncing is a type of stretch that lengthens the muscle quickly, with immediate shortening of the muscle. Ballistic stretching triggers a tightening of the muscles and tendons, increasing the risk of injury. The stretch response of
a muscle is an involuntary contraction that occurs when a muscle is rapidly stretched.
A relatively new and yet successful method of stretching is one that involves several different actions on the muscle group to improve flexibility. This form of sequential stretching is one in which you follow a certain pattern of motion to enhance the range of motion. There are two types:
Contract/Relax-Same Muscle Stretch, This is a three-step process:
- Contract the primary muscle followed by
- Relaxation of the same primary muscle followed by
- Slowly stretching the same primary muscle.
Contract/Relax-Opposite Muscle Stretch: Follow the same first two steps of contracting and relaxing, but stretch the opposite muscle instead of the primary muscle. By contracting the opposite, or antagonistic muscle, the primary muscle group responds by triggering the relaxation, resulting in a stretch of the primary muscle.
Remember, static and contract-relax stretching are excellent ways to increase your range
of motion. The only disadvantage of contract-relax stretching is that it sometimes requires a stretching partner. Stretching aids such as a stick, towel, or other apparatus can help with stretching activities.
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