The benefits of stretching, and yes we should all be stretching, whether we are sat at a desk or working outside or doing some sort of sporting activity. Stretching helps to realign your muscle fibers, elongate you muscles and help get them back to and maintain the correct shape and length allowing the blood to flow freely through the tissues and help reduce the build up of waste products such as lactic acid that can make you feel stiff and tight. It also helps to increase flexibility, and improves muscle coordination and power. Stretching can also be relaxing to both body and mind, relieving stress and reducing fatigue it makes us more aware of our bodies and improves posture.
You should always go into a stretch slowly and gently, it shouldn’t be sharp or uncomfortable, be aware of how your body feels it should be a comfort tension without any bouncing. Remember to breath it allows you to relax into the stretch making it more affective.
Types of stretching:
Static Stretching, this is the stretching that most of do. A position is held without any movement to allow the muscles to lengthen.
Passive stretching, this is usually done with a partner, where the partner moves you into a stretch and you are completely relaxed and make no contribution to the stretch.
Active stretching is where you get into a position and hold it with no assistance other than using the strength of the opposing muscle the agonist. Such as bringing your leg straight up in front of you and only using your leg muscles to keep it there, by the agonist contracting to keep the leg in position it allows the antagonist muscle to relax into the stretch. This type of stretching is often used in yoga.
Dynamic stretching is often used as a warm up before sport and uses smooth, controlled movements to stretch, gradually increasing reach, speed of movement or both to gently take you to your limits of your range of movement.
Ballistic Stretching is using the momentum of a limb to force a body part past its usual range of movement, such as swinging, bouncing or rebounding, which can be dangerous and therefore isn’t often used. Though may see some elite athletes, such as sprinters uses it.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) / Muscle Energy Technique, this is the sort of stretching that I would carry out on you as part of your treatment, using your muscles own energy to increase a stretch.