In order to stretch properly, it is necessary to know several different types of stretches, and in this way, one would be able to exercise based on his needs and objectives. We will talk about static, dynamic and PNF, but we will only detail the steps of the two methods that have been selected for their efficacy and simplicity will be discussed in detail.
Static stretching: It is also referred to as passive stretching, although the two are not exactly equal. The static stretch consists of taking a joint close to the limit of its mobility and maintaining that posture for a few seconds. It is one of the simplest and most effective stretches, and we can subdivide it in two:
Active Static: when the person stretching is the one who exerts, through the help of the other muscle groups, the force required to maintain the posture. It is not the most effective because it is not easy to maintain the proper tension for some of the body parts, and thus it is often preferable to perform passive static stretches, as explained below.
Passive Static: when a machine or another person helps to maintain the stretching posture. It consists of the following:
1. Stretch slowly until the limit prior to the pain.
2. Hold that position for approximately 20 seconds.
3. Pause for around 20 or 30 seconds (during which time you may stretch a different muscle group, preferably the antagonist).
4. Repeat the process 3 or 4 times.
Dynamic Stretching: As the name implies, one takes a body part in controlled movement until reaching its maximum point. This is a type of stretching that is reserved, almost always, to certain sports modalities in which an excellent control of mobility, in all its amplitude, is necessary (the most common examples are the martial arts and dance). In any case, this type of stretching should only be practiced by people with a certain level of training and control in their movements, not beginners. This type of stretching can be subdivided into two categories:
Explosive or ballistic stretching: This is a dynamic stretch that uses the inertia of the movement to take the joint farther than the normal range of motion. It is potentially injurious, which is why it generally should be avoided.
Guided stretching: This involves performing the movement in a controlled fashion at all times but over a large degree of amplitude. Propioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (P. N. F.) The PNF concept – some authors refer to it as isometrics – quite possibly derives from the North American authors Kabat, Levine and Bobath (in fact, it is also referred to as the “Kabat Method”), who made significant progress with this technique. Given that this method is a little more involved, it is meant for experienced individuals, not beginners. It consists of the following:
1. Begin with a light stretch until the point of discomfort.
2. Isometrically contract the stretched muscle for 6 to 8 seconds.
3. Relax the contraction for 2 or 3 seconds but without changing the posture.
4. Stretch a few more degrees of motion and hold the new position for 10 seconds.
5. Contract the muscle and repeat the process once or twice more.
This is a good stretching method provided that it is performed correctly. This technique is very similar to the Michell technique, in which, from the position of a stretched muscle, isometric contractions are performed, followed by a period of relaxation. At the end of each contraction, the stretch is increased a little more in search of a new motion barrier.