Types of Stretching, the Best & Why
We all know stretching is part of a healthy, balanced fitness regime (and if you don’t, we’ll remind you!) but did you know there are different types of stretching? All are beneficial but there are two more suitable to most, in different circumstances, too, and one type only a select few should do.
Stretching is essential to a holistic fitness routine. Among many benefits, some include: increased flexibility, improved circulation, balance, coordination AND posture, stress relief and injury prevention. Why wouldn’t you want to stretch?!
Just as stretching is advantageous to our health and well-being, there is a risk for injury with improper stretching. (Check out this About.com article for a proper stretching technique.)
Here’s the skinny on stretching:
3 Main Types of Stretching
Stretching is either dynamic or static. Here are the 3 main types of stretching that you need to know about:
1) Ballistic Stretching. This is a type of dynamic stretching used to prepare for explosive moment. Many sportspeople use this type to create an extreme source of energy by mimicking in the stretch the movements they’ll be performing during their sport (think: martial arts, boxing, sprinting, etc). This stretch involves rapid, alternating movements or bouncing at the end-range of motion. This is used to create more elasticity and fluidity in the joint. However, only trained professionals should use this dynamic type of stretching because there is an increased risk for injury.
2) Active Stretching. This is also dynamic stretching but it’s more controlled and safer than ballistic stretching. An example of this type is yoga, where the stretching involves the movement of a limb through its full range of motion to the end ranges and repeating several times. Many fitness trainers who have clients with weight-loss goals use active stretching during workouts because it burns additional calories.
3) Static Stretching. This is the most traditional and common type of stretching, where a specific position is held with the muscle on tension to a point of a stretching sensation and repeated. An example of this would be a tricep stretch where you bring your arm up, bend it at the elbow and use your other hand to bring it close to your ear.
The best stretching, in our opinion, is also considered static stretching and it’s done passively with a partner or using the assistance of a wall, towel or stretching band. We say it’s the best type of stretch because you are in a completely relaxed state, that is, you’re not using muscles at the same time as stretching, so you benefit from increased flexibility over long-term. When passive stretching by a professional is done everyday, you will certainly avoid tight limbs.
These are the 3 basic forms of stretching. We hope you learned what you should be avoiding and what to be aiming towards. Remember that there are risks involved in any type of stretching so be sure that you know proper stretching techniques and if you have another person stretch you, they know what they’re doing.
What’s your favourite stretch? Can you identify which category of stretches it falls into?