Static stretching refers to how far a muscle can be passively stretched around a joint, e.g. furthest distance you can move when trying to touch your toes.
This type of stretching routine serves to lengthen the resting muscle lengths and so restore ideal posture to the body. This greatly reduces the chance of injury and contributes greatly in rehabilitation and sports performance.
A passive stretching routine should be performed 3/ 4 times a week or more if very stiff at the moment. There are three main types of static stretching techniques aimed at increasing the muscle length. These work by either mechanically lengthening the muscle or by getting the central nervous system to allow increases in muscle length.
What to stretch.
Which muscle to stretch is a difficult question. In general stretching all muscles can be beneficial but the focus must be to find the tight ones and relax them. This is because it is the tight muscles that will cause injury. Tightness is relative issue rather than absolute, for example, being able to touch your toes cannot be said to be a good or bad sign of flexibility unless it is compared to the flexibility of the opposing muscle groups. Differences from side to side of the body are also significant factors in injury, for example, having the left hamstring tighter than the right.
To find out which muscles are tight complete some stretch tests. Then focus on the muscles that are tight on your body. Frequently retest for changes in flexibility and focus for your stretching campaign.
When to stretch
Static stretching should be done after an exercise session or later in the day. E.g. before bed time. Do not do static stretching if you have not done your active stretching routine at some point during that day as your body is not loosened enough to make any progress.
Points to note
The three types of stretching routine are called basic hold, hold relax, hold contract.
Hold - relax
Hold - contract
Static stretching exercises
Once you have discovered what muscles are tight and in need of stretching. The easiest way to do this is using some simple stretch test. Alternatively stretch the whole body and see which muscles feel really tight.
Then choose any stretch that targets your tight muscles. There are hundreds of different stretches but as long as your tight muscle is being stretched without hurting anywhere else on the body then do not worry about the merits of two similar exercises.
Static stretching is one component of fitness along with active flexibility in the four areas of exercise.. These are covered along with nutrition and the mental elements of healthy living in my weekly newsletter
I possess a degree in chemistry and I am qualified to teach metabolic typing nutrition. I attained the Certified strength and conditioning certificate through the NSCA and their certified personal trainer certificate. To complement this I completed further study in personal training, athletic preparation, lifestyle coaching and Emotional freedom technique (EFT).
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