Different Stretches for Different Activities
As we age, stretching is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. The two types of stretches most performed are static stretching and dynamic stretching. They both aim to increase range of motion, decrease stiffness, improve performance, and most importantly, reduce the risk of injury. So, what type of stretching is best?
Static stretching: The most common way to stretch! During a static stretch, a muscle or group of muscles is usually held stationary anywhere between 15-45 seconds. These stretches are usually repeated two to three times focusing on deep breaths while holding and really feeling the muscles and ligaments lengthening. The benefit of static stretching is that it helps to increase the body’s flexibility and after a while, range of motion will increase as well, making it easier to reach deeper while a stretch is being held.
Dynamic stretching: These stretches are controlled movements done to provide a more functional, performance-oriented warm-up. Dynamic stretching involves movements that are actively passing through a range of motion. For example: high knees or lunges with a twist. While dynamic stretching takes a little more focus and thoughtful coordination, it can increase flexibility, muscle strength, and better prepare the muscles and ligaments for a safe and successful workout.
When it comes to taking care of our bodies, both static and dynamic stretching will provide great benefits. No one stretch is deemed completely better than the other. Every body responds differently to stretches and it is important to take a moment and consider what type of stretching might be best for your body and best to prepare you for your workout. Both static and dynamic stretching working in combination has been proven to prepare your body for your best work out!
Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back (either on the couch or floor) and extend one leg perpendicular to your body. Grasp around the back of your leg and slowly pull the leg towards you, remembering to keep your opposite leg and hip on the ground.
- Tightness in the back of your legs can contribute to low back pain and difficulty walking. This stretch can help!
Chest stretch: Extend both arms to the sides, palms facing forward. Reach back with your hands until you feel a stretch across your chest and the front of your arms.
- Poor posture can often cause tightness in the chest muscles. This stretch can help lengthen these muscles, assisting in better posture.
Calf stretch: Stand up and face a wall. Place your right foot in front of your left and place both hands on the wall in front of you to support your body. Once comfortable, slowly begin bending your right knee until you feel a stretch in your lower leg. Hold for 30 seconds. Slowly stand up and switch your feet to get the other calf stretched out.
- Lower body flexibility and overall functionality of the legs can increase with this stretch.