Hey Angels and Alphas,
Whether you’ve been training daily for the last 15 years or you’re just now starting to learn about female and male fitness, there’s one thing you should never forget – stretching is key.
You’ve probably already heard of stretching that has to do with loosening your muscles before a workout or helping your muscles recover and don’t get so sore after a workout.
But what most people don’t seem to realize is that there are many more types of stretching, all with their different purposes and recommendations on when to do them.
In short, stretching is a practice that goes much deeper than just learning how to touch your toes.
It depends on who you ask, but there are various types of stretchers out there, with four main common movement patterns making up pretty much all of them. These four common movement patterns are active, static, dynamic, and ballistic stretches.
Some of them are better for warming up before you start your workout, some are better for cooling down after you train, but they’re all necessary pieces of your program and shouldn’t be ignored.
Let’s briefly go over each of these common movement patterns, learn what they’re all about, and find out how we can strategically use them in our programs for more results.
#1 STATIC STRETCHING
Static stretches are basically stretches built around the idea that if you hold a static position for an extended period of time, tension releases from the muscles. They’re often performed while you’re sitting down, lying down on your back, or standing up, and their main purpose is lengthening the muscles by staying in one single position instead of moving through the range of motion.
Most experts agree the standard static stretch should last about 30 seconds to a minute. This helps you improve recovery and release tension. Some examples include the seated butterfly stretch or the cobra pose.
You should perform static stretches only after you’re finished training, regardless if it was cardio or weightlifting.
#2 DYNAMIC STRETCHING
Research has shown us that implementing more dynamic stretching movements into your warmup will increase your strength, your endurance, and your agility. During these movement patterns, all your muscles and joints are actively going through and back the range of motion and may even look a lot like your actual workout.
One example of this would be the walking lunge, or the standing knee raises you do before you actually start picking up the pace for your jog. Dynamic stretches are key when it comes to increasing your mobility and your range of motion.
You should perform dynamic stretches during pre-game warmups, before any workout you do, and even on recovery days, as well.
#3 ACTIVE STRETCHING
When you’re engaging your body in active stretching, what you’re doing is you’re using opposing muscles to stretch yourself without the need to apply an external force. Meaning your quads might be activated while your hamstrings are stretching, so technically, your body is playing an active role in this stretch. Active stretches are usually done in multiple repetitions, and they’re each held for a short duration (up to 5-15 seconds.)
A good example here would be the seated wall angels or the straight leg raises you do while laying on your back.
This type of stretching is versatile and can be performed before, during, and after workouts to activate the muscle and improve mobility.
#4 BALLISTIC STRETCHING
Ballistic stretches look a lot like dynamic stretches, but they’re more focused on expanding your joints and muscles past their usual range of motion. They are extremely slow, controlled movements that, when performed safely, lengthen and loosen the muscles faster and further than most other stretches out there.
Ballistic stretching is usually performed by athletes who want to lean into their edges and maximize their body’s ability. They carry a higher risk of injury and they’re not for everyone. Some examples include standing lunges, shoulder rotations, as well as sitting toe reaches that are all performed in a slow, controlled manner.
If you want to try ballistic stretching, try it after your workouts or on a rest day after warming up your muscles with dynamic stretches first.
Bringing it all together…
As you now know, not all stretches are created equal. There’s a time and a place for each, and there are some that you need to be more experienced to even attempt. Take this as a learning curve and explore different stretching movements you can use to further your body’s abilities, and always make sure you’re using the right stretches at the right time.