There are seven methods of stretching but what is the best method of stretching? Here are the types of stretching that you may have heard of:
- Static stretching
- Active stretching
- Passive stretching
- Dynamic stretching
- Ballistic stretching
- Isometric stretching
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching
What is the difference between these types of stretching and how will it benefit you? First, you must understand what your goals are. Some stretches are better at helping you reach your goals so it would be smart to focus on the types of stretching that works for you. Second, you should take into consideration your current ability before you begin. Your current ability may need to be improved with different types of stretches before you start working towards your goals.
Here is a video to quickly explain why the best method for you ultimately depends on a few factors:
Continue reading to learn more about these types of stretches and see which one works for you:
This is the most common type of stretching and it is one of the safest methods. It does not require too much tension – you simply have to stretch until you feel a gentle pull and hold it for 30-60 seconds.
Also known as Active Isolated stretching, this method requires you to assume and hold a position with the help of your natural muscle strength. For example. When you raise your straightened leg high into the air while standing, one muscle will contract to hold the position while the opposing muscle will relax and stretch.
Passive stretching is similar to static stretching but instead of stretching yourself, a stretching partner or the equipment will stretch it for you. For example, by doing the splits, the floor acts as the equipment that helps you stretch without putting your own force into it.
Dynamic stretching uses controlled leg and arm movements to gently and slowly push your muscles to the limits of your range of motion. This is not to be confused with bouncing or rapid movements. For example, gentle leg and arm swings or torso twists.
When you bounce while you stretch to push beyond your normal range of motion, this is called ballistic stretching. Be careful! This method of stretching can cause muscle strains or tearing if done improperly.
Muscle tension can be developed without the contraction of the muscle. Isometric stretching can be done by getting the muscle into a stretched position and then resisting the stretch. With the help of a stretching partner or equipment/outside apparatus, you can perform this method of stretching. For example, your stretching partner would hold your leg up while you force your leg back down.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching
PNF is a technique that combines passive and isometric stretching to achieve maximum flexibility. This type of stretching is extremely useful as a treatment among physiotherapists and sports injury professionals. PNF stretching includes hold-relax, contract-relax, and then it repeats.
Check out our blog posts for stretches you can do at home: