By: Jessica Lime
There are different types of stretching techniques such as static, dynamic, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (pre-contraction stretching), the body responds differently to each stretch. Stretching is beneficial to each subject’s body, sport, activation and recovery process. Stretching increases flexibility, range of motion, reduces the risk of injury, increases blood supply to minimize soreness, improves posture and alignment within the body. Stretching can be done every day as long as the muscle is not in any pain or discomfort and the subject is not applying too much force.
Static stretching is the most common type of stretching. Static stretching is performed by extending a muscle group to its maximal point and holding it for 30 seconds or more. There is active and passive static stretching. Active static stretching is when the individual applies force for a deeper stretch1. Passive stretch stretching is when a partner applies additional force to the muscle to create a deeper stretch1.
5 static stretching examples
- Seated butterfly stretch
- Standing hamstring stretch
- Wall calf stretch
- Standing iliotibial band stretch
- Overhead triceps stretch
Dynamic stretching requires continuous active movement patterns, placing your muscles and joints through full range of motion that copy sport like movements and mechanics. The purpose of this type of stretching is to prepare the individual for the sport or activity they are about to participate in so their body is prepared1. The subject will repeat this movement on both sides of the body for equal amounts for the same distance.
Walking Knee to Chest
5 Dynamic stretch examples
- Side shuffle
- Walking knee to chest
- Hip abduction and adduction walk
- Lunge walk with twist
- Power skip with reach
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
This stretching technique often requires a partner in order to provide the resistance and passive stretch needed for this type of stretching. There are 3 main types of PNF stretching: hold-relax, contract-relax, and hold-relax with contraction of agonist muscle group2. Hold-relax begins with a passive stretch to a point of mild discomfort by your partner, then they apply additional pressure and instruct you to “hold and don’t let me move you.” This is held 5-6 seconds and your partner will push you a little further into the passive stretch3. Contract-relax is performed by pushing against a resisted force while being stretched. Then the subject should relax and be able to move the limb back further and repeat the process. The subjects partner will apply additional force to the contracted muscle for 5 -6 seconds, then perform a controlled stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then relax for 30 seconds and repeat 2- 4 times. Each time the subject should have a little more range of motion. Hold-relax with contraction of agonist muscle is the same as hold and relax in the first two phases, however during the third phase a concentric motion of the agonist is used along with a passive stretch2.
PNF pt.2 (push against)
PNF stretching example:
- Hamstring stretch with force applied by partner
Stretching is very beneficial to the human body to allow optimal flexibility for performance. Stretching increases muscle length increasing the extensibility allowing the subject to be able to safely increase the load placed on the limb and joint. Be sure to contact your local Ageility gym for further questions on stretching mechanics and your range of motion to see which type is best for you and your sport.
1Edwards, M. (2012). Types of stretching. ACE.
2Ellerton, H. (2018). What is PNF stretching and how should you use it? Human Kinetics.
3Hindle, K. B., Whitcomb, T. J., Briggs, W. O., & Hong, J. (2012). Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF): Its Mechanisms and Effects on Range of Motion and Muscular Function. Journal of human kinetics, 31, 105–113. https://doi.org/10.2478/v10078-012-0011-y
4Varshell, L. (n.d.). Safer, softer, smarter yoga. A Gentle Way Yoga.