Stretching exercises can encourage the lengthening of your muscles and their associated tendons to normalise your muscle length and tension ratio.
Muscles shorten during exercise, from general postural habits and ageing and disuse. If you only use a small amount of your muscle length range, your muscle will adapt over time and shorten to that length.
By lengthening your muscles via stretching, you promote flexibility and your ability to have a full range of motion about your joints.
The stretches that you perform vary depending on whether you are preparing for exercise, recovering from exercise, or rehabilitating from injury. It is important to stretch your muscles only when they are warm, as cold muscles are more likely to tear.
What are the 4 main types of stretching?
Corrective Or Rehabilitation Stretching
These are specific stretches for target muscles that our physiotherapists can identify. They should be performed daily or as directed by the therapist using the techniques that they feel will assist you in reaching your flexibility goals.
Static stretching is considered the safest method of stretching. A static stretch should be held for 20 to 30 seconds at a point where you can feel the stretch but do not experience any discomfort.
Dynamic or Ballistic Stretching
Ballistic stretching is stretching performed at speed and can be prescribed by one of our sports physiotherapists. They are often used as a part of your warm-up for sport or training.
Dynamic stretches involve muscle movements that move a joint through the full range of movement that will be required in your chosen sport or activity.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation or PNF stretching involves a component of stretch – muscle contraction – and further stretch. This process is usually repeated several times and uses a trick on the muscle spindle reflex to help elongate your muscles.
The many benefits to stretching include:
- Decreasing muscle stiffness and increases range of motion
- Reducing your risk of injury
- Helps relieve post-exercise aches and pains
- Improves posture
- Helps reduce or manage stress
- Reduces muscular tension and enhances muscular relaxation
- Improves mechanical efficiency and overall functional performance
- Prepares the body for the stress of exercise
- Promotes circulation
- Decreases the risk of low-back pain
To summarise, stretching can be used as a corrective, preventative and recovery strategy. It can be paramount in helping to relieve aches and pains. At Home Physio Group, more specific stretching advice can be sought from our physiotherapists.
For more information please contact us on 0330 335 1016 or alternatively please fill out our contact sheet and we will get back to you.