increased mobility (range of movement) and aids injury prevention. There are
three types of stretch that can be performed with the amount of time they are
performed for specifying their use.
Remember, stretching shouldn’t be painful, just stretch to the point of tension gently
then hold for the required time. Muscles need to be warm before you stretch. The
muscle fibre coating (collagen) will inhibit the stretch if the muscle isn’t warm.
Relaxation throughout the body will make stretching easier and therefore, more
Types of Stretches
Static – This is probably the most common, mainly because it benefits
from being both effective and safe. Simply place the body in the required
position and hold it there for the desired amount of time.
Passive – This increases the range of movement through an external
force i.e. partner, walls or floor. These stretches can be very useful in
developmental stretching but care must be taken to ensure the stretch
is not forced, it should remain within the realms of comfort at all times.
Dynamic – These stretches use some momentum, for example leg
swings. You have less control during this type of stretch, but if you go gently
they are very good at replicating the movement of the exercise you are to undertake.
Ballistic stretching is when you force these swings or movements and is not as useful
for many sports - it is probably most relevant to sports such as gymnastics.
Stages of stretching
Preparatory – Warm Up stretches. We recommend the use of
dynamic stretches when you are warming up before exercise. These should replicate the kind
of movements that you are going to undertake when exercising.
Maintenance – Warm down stretches. These take the muscles back to
their pre workout length, as some shortening will have occurred during
activity. Many athletes are tired after a session and don’t stretch, it is,
however, very useful to do so. A suggestion would be to reduce the number
of stretches performed to concentrate on the most major and injury-prone
muscles to ensure that these are cared for. These stretches should be held
for slightly longer, say 15-30 seconds.
Developmental Stretches – From time to time athletes realise that their
mobility isn’t as good as it should be (this is generally true for most
athletes all of the time). Development stretching is used to increase
flexibility in areas of need such as hamstrings and hip flexors. Stretch to
the point of tension, hold for a few seconds. Then, when the tension eases,
stretch a little further. Total time for stretch = 30-60 seconds.