Stretching is an essential part of any exercise regimen, it will not only improve your endurance and balance, but will also decrease the risk for injury. If you are participating in any sporting event or physical activity, time should also be set aside for stretching. Two types of stretches are typically conducted: static stretching (stationary) or dynamic stretching (mobility). The timing of stretching is important as well as the specificity, in other words your stretching routine should be specific to the demands of your sport. Typically, dynamic stretches should be performed pre-activity and static stretching post-activity.
These types of stretches are great for getting your heart rate up, warming up your joints and muscles, and enhancing range of motion and power. Again, these stretches should be specific to the demands of the activity you are about to perform.
Some general movements for most activities can include:
- Standing hip circles
- Leg swings
- Trunk rotations
- Arm circles
- Butt kicks
- Karaoke stretching
The idea with these stretches is to make sure your muscles are ready to perform, with that said it is best to work into deeper ranges of motions (not into pain) but not holding the position. Warm-up should be around 15 minutes.
These types are stretching are best to perform after activities as they can help maintain flexibility, lower recovery time, and decrease soreness. The idea for these stretches is to hold the position for at least 30-45 seconds to allow time for the tissue to adapt to the new range. Static stretching takes consistency, in order to change the properties of the tissue the stretches must be performed on a consistent basis.
Some examples include:
- Seated or standing toe reaches (hamstrings),
- Lunge stretch (hip flexors)
- Knees to chest (hamstrings, glutes, low back)
- Butterfly (groin), doorway stretch (pectorals)
- Runner’s stretch (gastric/soleus)
- Flamingo (quadriceps).
Try 3 sets per stretch in order to get the most out of your stretching. Stretching should not be painful, but some discomfort is normal especially in more restricted areas. Remember to always listen to your body, perform all stretches as tolerated.
Blog researched and written by: Dr. Brandon Brym, PT, DPT.