Stretching involves taking soft tissue (muscle, ligament, nerve, tendon, any non-bony structure) to the end of its available range and holding it there for any length of time. It’s a good way of assisting soft tissue repair and maintaining flexibility and tone.
Stretching can be static or dynamic.
Static stretching involves holding a stretch position for longer than 10 seconds – usually 30 seconds, depending on what you are trying to achieve.
Suffer from overuse injuries and want to know why.
- A warming up for an activity stretch would only need to be 20 seconds. The aim of this stretch would be to take the muscle through its available motion prior to doing the same during the activity.
- As part of your warm down, you could do a single stretch of the restricted area, lasting longer than a couple of minutes. They don’t have to be nasty, just so you feel local strain.
- The key to gaining improved flexibility is long static stretches performed daily over months.
Dynamic stretching involves taking the muscle quickly into a stretch position and then off again. The aims of dynamic stretching are:
- to better simulate exercise conditions
- condition the soft tissues for higher and faster loads
- facilitate stronger muscle contractions.
Generally dynamic stretching is performed in pre-exercise warm up.
A good warm up may look like:
- Gentle cycle/walk up steps (or run), 5-10 minutes
- Static stretches 20-30 seconds major muscle groups
- Gradual increased tempo of the exercise about to complete, 5 minutes
- Dynamic stretching of key muscle groups 15-30 seconds each group
- Gradual introduction of more exercise specific movements so as ready to go, 5-10 minutes.