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Stretching Types and Uses

Main Training Techniques Page
Main Stretching Page
Upper Body Warm Up Stretches
Leg Warm Up Stretches
Other Stretches

Stretching promotes 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 comfortable.

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.

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