When should you stretch and what is the benefit of stretching? I have seen a lot of athletes neglect stretching exercises which result in inflexibility or reduce range of motion of the joint. Today I will be talking about different types of stretches and when you should do them.
What is stretching?
Stretching is a physical exercise that allows tendons and muscles to be in a stretched position. This will allow muscles and their connective tissue and fascia to lengthen and increase their elasticity. The result is to improve flexibility, mobility, range of motion and muscle control.
What are the different types of stretches?
Static stretching: Static stretching is most commonly known amongst all the stretches. It requires the person to hold the stretch for ~60 seconds. It is usually performed after activity to reduce muscle tension and increase flexibility. It is not done before the exercise because it could inhibit muscle excitability. Also some study has shown that static stretching while muscles are warmed (i.e. after sports) could increase its effect.
Dynamic stretching: Dynamic stretching is now more commonly known. It is usually performed before exercises. It requires the person to mimic the movement pattern of the exercise or sport. The athlete should hold each stretch for 2-3 seconds. It allows the athlete to go through the joint range of motion as well as prepare the muscles for exercises.
Ballistic stretching: It is the most controversial type of stretching. It requires the athlete to put the muscles on stretch and add repeated bounces while stretching. By performing ballistic stretching, it will inhibit the stretch reflex and increase joint and muscle range of motion. However, the extra bouncing and jerky movement could potentially overload the muscle and cause injuries. Ballistic stretching can be performed before or after the activity.
Take home message:
Stretching is an essential part of warm up and rehab. They are all used to increase range of motion and to prepare the athlete for sport. The different types of stretches have advantages and disadvantages. Static stretching is the most common type but it could inhibit muscle excitability. Dynamic stretching is usually used for before sport and it does not have much effect if you perform after exercise. Ballistic stretching is great however the athlete could be in risk of injury by overloading the muscles. Physiotherapists or coaches should instruct the athlete how to perform stretches correctly so it will maximise effect and minimise injuries.
This information can be used to gain a better understanding of carpel tunnel syndrome. To find out more about how we can help, or to book in for a consultation you can contact us via our Limp in Leap out Physiotherapy & Wellness contact us page, or book online here.