Do you find yourself skipping your cool down at the end of a workout but then constantly feel sore or tight? Here are the 3 main types of stretches and why they are all important for different reasons and at different times.
Static stretching: This is important for injury prevention
This involves the process of moving into a stretch position and then holding the stretch e.g. a hamstring stretch.
These stretches should be held for 10-30 seconds and be safe and controlled. This type of stretching is most effective when adopted as part of a cool down (i.e. at the end of a workout).
It acts as an injury prevention by reducing soreness and recovery time due to the way it facilitates the depletion of any lactic acid (that burning feeling in your muscles when they start to fatigue) which may have built up during the workout.
This is particularly important in sports or activities that engage large muscle groups for example after you’ve gone for a run, or kicked butt (excuse the pun) on leg day as it delays the onset of muscle fatigue and soreness, meaning that you can exercise again pain-free the next day.
Dynamic stretches: These stretches are important before your workout
These stretches use momentum as you move through a range of movements – the key word here is move so you don’t hold the stretch for long.
Dynamic stretches such as shoulder circles or lunges are super important as they expose your body to the movements and range of motion which you might experience during your workout, thus warming up your muscles and making it easier to perform your desired activity.
PNF Stretching: Is important for any type of rehabilitation
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a more advanced form of flexibility training that involves both the stretching and contraction of the muscle group being targeted.
PNF stretching was originally developed as a form of rehabilitation, and to that effect it is very effective. It is also excellent for targeting specific muscle groups, and as well as increasing flexibility, it also improves muscular strength.
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