Monday, October 12, 2009

Static? Dynamic? Ballistic? PNF? The Whens and Hows of Proper Stretching

If you have ever wondered what type of stretching gives you the most benefit and when you should perform your stretching routine, this is the post for you. I will dissect every stretching method and provide you with the details of each, ok here we go:

Static Stretching: This involves holding a muscle-tendon unit past resting(normal) length for a period of time (30 seconds for greatest benefit). When holding the stretch, you should feel slight discomfort, but never pain. Static stretching can be done before or after a warm-up and some studies have shown that in fact the best long-term results are obtained from static stretching a cold muscle.

Dynamic Stretching: Dynamic stretching is stretching a muscle-tendon unit through it's full range of healthy motion. In contrast to static stretching, dynamic stretching should only be performed after a thorough and deliberate warm-up period. Dynamic stretching is important prior to quick or powerful movements which is why athletes of all sporting backgrounds use dynamic stretching before practice and competitions.

Ballistic Stretching: This type of stretching involves bouncing during a static stretch and in my opinion the risk of injury outweighs any perceived benefit that has been reported. Ballistic stretching should not be practiced in my opinion.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching: PNF stretching involves the stimulating of muscle spindles and Golgi Tendon Organs inside the muscle belly. By performing a stretch and contract pattern, PNF stretching often pulls the muscle-tendon unit past a position static or dynamic stretching is able, making it probably the most productive method of stretching. However, it must be done with the proper knowledge of how to stretch and relax the muscle or injury risk is very probable.

In conclusion, static and dynamic stretching are probably the most effective methods of stretching and both should be done as part of any strength and conditioning/fitness program to increase healthy range of motion in every joint in our bodies

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