Stretching is one of the most important things that can be done for the human body.
It has a tremendous impact on how muscles respond to exercise, how muscles recover, and how the body itself functions. It keeps the body agile, flexible and ensures a healthy range of motion.
Even the Ancients Stretched
Stretching has been around as a craft since the beginning of humanity. The Ancient Greeks recorded the use of stretching as part of their training for athletic events and the military and also incorporated it as a regular part of staying healthy. The act of manual therapy, which is manually moving body parts and muscles into certain positions, has been recorded in the earliest medical texts of Hippocrates and Galen.
Since, stretching has developed in that what we know about the human body has become more backed by modern medicine. Stretching is mainly effective in preparing muscles for activity because it calls on the muscles, allows them to stimulate and extend without them becoming tight. It also encourages joint health by increasing the range of motion.
The Big Three
There are numerous types of stretching and more emerging every day. The three main types of stretching are static stretching, dynamic stretching, and ballistic stretching. Static stretching is defined as active or passive stretching that involves moving into or pulling into a position. You are recommended to hold that position for between half a minute and a minute. This is what is most typically pictures when you think of people stretching. Static stretches include exercises like a hamstring stretch, where you sit on the floor with your legs straight and try to touch your toes.
Dynamic stretching is a much more active subcategory of stretching. It allows you to push through resistance and test and improve the range of motion in joints. Because the stretches are much more dynamic, they are only recommended to be held for 2-3 seconds. Many athletes use this type of stretch to prepare for a sport as it gives the muscles and joints preparation for quick and often erratic movements. An example of this is a stretch that uses a band to pull your hand behind your back and stretch your triceps.
Ballistic stretches are a bit less known than the other two but are known for their dynamo. They utilize almost jerky movements and aim to put force muscles in a quick fashion. They aim to trigger the stretch reflex through force and motion called bouncing. When doing ballistic stretches, it is necessary to be careful not to overload the muscles. They could become injured from the use of jerky motion if you are not cautious and aware of your body. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to listen to how your body responds.
There are a wide variety of stretches and subcategories that fall under stretching that combine to form a wide range of results. Finding the right combination of stretches can be critical to preparing for a workout, and recovering after. If you aren’t sure precisely what stretches work best for you, evaluate where in your body is tight or in pain and work to target that specific area.