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Improve Muscle Health by Stretching 

By Jacqueline / January 14th, 2017

As a licensed massage therapist, I usually advise my clients to stretch on a daily basis. Stretching is essential for everyone, from those who sit for long periods of time to those who regularly engage in intense physical activity. I even see my puppy stretch many times throughout the day. Stretching not help improve posture and  range of motion, it also  enhances the health of the muscles by increasing blood flow. According to the American Council on Exercise, there are 6 main types of stretches: static, dynamic, ballistics, active isolated, myofascial release, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.

Static– extend the targeted muscles group to its maximum then hold for a maximum of 30 seconds. There are 2 types of static stretches: active and passive. With active static stretch, the individual applies force for greater intensity and with passive static stretch, another person applies the force for increased intensity.

  • Examples: Arm and shoulder stretch, hamstring and quadriceps stretch, head bend and side bend.
  • Benefits: Relief from muscle cramps, improved range of motion and flexibility, alleviate sore muscles, and promote relaxation.

Dynamic– usually done by athletes and mimics the exercise or sport about to be done.

  • Example- a runner doing lunges before running or high kicks.
  • Benefits- Helps increase blood flow and muscle temperature.

Ballistics– repeated bouncing movements to stretch targeted muscles.

  • Example- a person bent over and touching their toes repeatedly or doing karate kicks over and over.
  • Benefits: Improves tendon elasticity, stretches muscles, and improves flexibility by allowing joints to move more freely.

Active Isolated Stretching– performed repeatedly but held for only 2 seconds, and with each time exceeding the previous point of resistance by a few degrees.

  • Example: using a rope to gently assist in pulling your muscle a little farther than your body would ordinarily allow.
  • Benefits- improves flexibility by assisting with the reprogramming of your brain and your body to remember new ranges of motion; lengthen and strengthen muscles.

Myofascial Release– focuses on releasing muscular shortness and tightness.

  • Example: Foam rolling- through the use of a foam roller or similar device, small, continuous back-and-forth movements are performed over an area of about 2 to 6 inches for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Benefits: relieves tension and improves flexibility in the fascia snd underlying muscles, increases blood flow, reduces muscle soreness, encourages movement of your lymph (a major component of your immune system that helps to fight infection in the body).

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation– more advanced form of flexibility training that involves both the stretching and contraction of the muscle group being targeted.

  • Example: Partner hamstring stretch- lie on your back with your arms and legs on the floor, then have your partner pick up your right leg off the floor and push it toward your chest. Keep both legs straight. Your partner should push your leg just far enough that you feel slight discomfort. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, actively push back against your partner’s resistance for 6 seconds. When the 6 seconds is up, relax your hamstring and allow your partner to push it farther than on the first stretch. During this period, you can contract your quads for even greater hamstring ROM gains. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Benefits: helps to increase the core temperature of the body while also increasing muscle temperature. Also stretches and lengthens muscle..

Stretching not only feels good but it’s also extremely beneficial to the muscles and joints of the body and improves range of motion, flexibility, blood blow, and reduces muscle injuries.

What are some stretches you do? When do you find them most beneficial?

 

References

“Beginner’s Guide to Active Isolated Stretching.” EXOS. N.p., 6 Jan. 2009. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.

Chintu.telang. “10 Benefits Of Ballistic Stretching Exercise.” BodyBuilding EStore. N.p., 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

Edwards, Makeba. “What Are The Different Types of Stretching Techniques?” ACE Fitness. N.p., 19 Nov. 2012. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.

Melone, Linda. “A New Way to Stretch.” Arthritis Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.

Penney, Stacey. “Foam Rolling: Applying the Technique of SMR.” NASM Blog. N.p., 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.

Smith, Cassie & Kendall, Krissy. “Boost Your Mobility With PNF Stretching!” Bodybuilding.com. N.p., 11 June 2015. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

“Static Stretches.” Stretching Exercises Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.

Walker, Brad. “PNF Stretching Explained – Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation.” PNF Stretching Explained | Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

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