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Stretching 101 "Static"

Types of stretching, Why stretch, When to stretch, and How to stretch.


Types of stretching:

Dynamic Stretching- Usually done before exercise as a warmup. Gently taking a joint through movement ranges gradually incorporating more demanding movement patterns, small movements to larger patterns. This type of warmup should progress to mimicking the particular activity you are warming up for.

Active Stretching- Stretching with the help of the opposing muscle groups contraction. Can be done before exercise.

Ballistic Stretching- Ballistic stretching can be used as a warmup. Ballistic stretching incorporates momentum of a limb to facilitate movement. This type of stretching does not allow for the muscle to adjust to the new lengths thus, is one of the reasons it is ill advised for new exercisers.

Passive Stretching- Using the assistance of a device or a person to hold a stretch for the desired amount of time. Should be performed post exercise.

PNF Stretching- Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is a type of stretching used in clinical settings to increase range of motion in both passive and active depths.

Static Stretching- Stretching is held in comfortable range from 30 seconds to one minute. The focus of our discussion today is static stretching. Recommended for post exercise in most applications.

Why even Stretch?

Stretching is beneficial because it increases the pliability of connective tissue and muscle. A body that moves freely feels better and also performs better. Think of a car without power steering, "not a good look." Using the previous example less accidents are likely to happen with better steering.

As related to injury prevention:

  • lower level of flexibility = higher level of muscle energy absorption.

  • higher level of flexibility = lower level of muscle energy absorption.

  • high muscle energy absorption= higher force levels and trauma to muscle fibers (1).

As related to performance

  • decreased flexibility = more work required.

  • increased flexibility = less work required = bonus to performance.

  • low flexibility also limits joint motion.

Science proves that a muscle with higher flexibility will decrease the work required to move a limb thus, increasing joint range of motion, speed/force of contraction, and increased performance in the long term.

Psychological Benefits Of Stretching

There have been reports of feelings of reduced tension with static stretching. Through EMG measurements and saliva testing there has been a correlation with stretching and lower levels of stress hormones. (2-3)

*And if all else fails, hell its a great way to feel the end range of motion of your joints. Knowing what your body is capable of could aide in injury prevention and enhance self awareness. * You're supposed to smile here, YAY for self awareness and all that jazz and rock. \m/

When TO stretch?

Research tells us that static stretching could negatively impact maximal effort performances. It is currently recommended to utilize dynamic stretches or FOAM ROLLING prior to exercise.

Static stretching, the topic of today is best advised post workout.

There are cases where an individual may need to do static stretching prior to exercise if, she/he has limited functional range of motion of a joint due to; previous injury, surgery, and or health conditions. If you feel like this could pertain to you seek professional advice.


Stretches are simple, achieve position and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute for 2-3 sets. It is recommended for older populations to hold stretches for 1 minute sets. Remember stretching should be pain free and relaxing. Focus on natural breathing patterns filling the abdomen with air and exhaling.


What if I don't feel the stretch?

Apply more pressure while maintaining good form.

What if I can't get into the stretch?

The body forms along patterns of stress due to our daily activities. Get as close to possible with each stretch, as long as there is no pain present. *Be mindful of prior conditions* These are a few of the stretches I find my clients needing to work on.You may or may not need every stretch. A good rule of thumb is to do a few stretches daily. There are seven days in a week no need to do everything at once.


(1) Safran MR, Seaber AV, Garrett WE Jr. Warm-up and muscular injury prevention. An update. Sports Med. 1989;8(4):239-249

(2) Carlson CR, Curran SL. Stretch-based relaxation training. Patient Educ Couns. 1994;23(1):5-12.

(3) Sugano A, Nomura T. Influence of water exercise and land stretching on salivary cortisol concentrations and anxiety in chronic low back pain patients. J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2000;19(4):175-180.

As always open to questions or concerns. I am available through email at


David Piggott (CPT,CES,PES)

#fitness #returntorunning #wellness

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