individual has different degrees of flexibility. Genetics, injuries,
and abnormal biomechanics all play a role in these differences. In order
to improve the range of body motions, stretching should be done gradually
over a long period of time and then maintained to prevent slipping back
towards inflexibility. The key to success is to be patient and consistent.
Stretching requires time and it is also important to stay relax. The
student should take the opportunatity to breath deeply and let your
mind connect with your body.
you have any problems ask your doctor before beginning a stretching
program. No stretching routine should be painful. Pain indicates
either incorrect technique or a medical problem. If in doubt, consult
a qualified health professional.
purpose of stretching is to improve flexibility in order to reduce,
prevent or treat injuries, enhance performance and possibly reduce muscle
soreness after strenuous exercise. There
are four methods of stretching: static, ballistic, dynamic and proprioceptive
neuromuscular facilitation (PNF).
stretching is recommended method to increase flexibility
since it is the least likely to cause injury. Static stretching includes
both passive and isometric stretching. Static stretching is done by
slowly moving a joint towards it's end-range of motion. A gentle "pulling"
sensation should be felt in the desired muscle. This position is then
held for 15 - 20 seconds, with a focus on relaxing the target muscle.
Breathing deeply also help the stretch. There should not be any feeling
of pain or bouncing motion. Passive stretching is also
referred to as relaxed stretching, and as static-passive stretching.
A passive stretch is one where you assume a position and hold it with
some other part of your body, or with the assistance of a partner or
some other apparatus. Yoga and similar forms of exercises uses passive
stretchs. Isometric stretching is a type of static stretching
(meaning it does not use motion) which involves the resistance of muscle
groups through isometric contractions (tensing) of the stretched muscles.
Some martial arts such as Hung Gar use this type of exercises to increase
Ballistic (bouncing) stretching
is generally not recomended as a method for the general public.
Ballistic stretching means bobbing, bouncing or using some type of moving
pressure to stretch the target muscles. Ballistic stretching is not
recommended because it activates the myotatic reflex and causes the
muscles to tense, rather than relax. Ballistic stretching also is has
a high risk of injury if not done probably.
is generally performed in place of ballistic stretching. Dynamic stretching
involves slow controlled movements through the full range of motion
without stress or tension. Examples of dynamic stretches are joint rotations,
neck mobility, shoulder circles, side bends and hip rotations. Tai chi
and some internal styles are effectively using dynamic stretching methods.
PNF stretching are
probably best reserved for a select few who are experienced with their
use. PNF stretching stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation
stretching. It combines passive stretching (see section Passive Stretching)
and isometric stretching (see section Isometric Stretching) in order
to achieve maximum static flexibility. PNF refers to any of several
post-isometric relaxation stretching techniques in which a muscle group
is passively stretched, then contracts isometrically against resistance
while in the stretched position, and then is passively stretched again
through the resulting increased range of motion. PNF stretching usually
employs the use of a partner to provide resistance against the isometric
contraction and then later to passively take the joint through its increased
range of motion. It may be performed, however, without a partner, although
it is usually more effective with a partner's assistance.
should be done after warm-up exercises in order to get the most benefit.
The increased blood flow to the muscles aids in the flexibility gains
from stretching and is an important component for injury prevention.
Within a session, each subsequent stretch of a particular muscle group
seems to give progressively more flexibility. A set of 3 to 5 stretches
is probably sufficient to get the maximum out of the routine. Alternate
between agonist and antagonist muscle groups (eg. quadriceps and hamstrings),
and alternate sides. It is also a good idea to start with the neck and
progress down to the feet. This enables you to take advantage of gains
in flexibility from the previously stretched muscle groups. Stretching
should also be done after the workout. The post-workout stretch is thought
to aid in recovery. Cold packs can be applied to sore areas in those
of you who are recovering from injuries.
Stretching are so basic that many
people perform the exercises incorrectly. Students should be aware of
the following points:
- Know the limits of your motion.
- Work on increasing strength as
well as increasing your range of motions.
- There should be mild discomfort
at the limit of the motion range of the target muscles but this should
not linger nor beome painful. If you experience pain, stop and consult
with the appropiate health professionals as soon as possible.
- Do-not bounce during a stretch
unless you have been properly conditioned. In general, quick sharp
motions only the muscles reflexily contract. Bouncing could lead to
muscle tears and other types of injuries.
- Understand the purpose of each
movement and the affected muscle groups.
- Gravity assisted stretches use
the force of gravity to increase the range of motion and increase
the stress on particular muscle group. Splits and toe touchs are ommon
examples of gravity assisted stretches. Although they are useful,
they should be performed only after the muscle is fully warmed up.
- Becareful when you are performing
any exerises that involve stretching the back.