Stretching has so many benefits. Just start a program of stretching, and you’ll soon notice many of them. Some of the benefits of stretching are:
As we age, our muscles tighten and we have less range of motion in our joints. Simple activities that we once took for granted, like cutting our toenails, picking things up from the floor or zipping a dress, can all become difficult. A regular stretching program can help lengthen your muscles and make these daily activities easier and more enjoyable. Stretching improves circulation of blood to the muscles and joints. Increased blood circulation, of course, brings nutrients to our cells and removes waste byproducts. Chronically tense and tight muscles contribute to poor posture, which in turn can affect the functioning of our internal organs, not to mention our appearance. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, shoulders and chest can help keep the back in better alignment and improve posture. Stretching, done properly, helps to relax tense muscles which result from stress. The feeling of relaxation brings a sense of well-being and relief from tension. Greater flexibility and range of motion in the hamstrings and muscles of the hips and pelvis help to reduce the stress on your spine that causes lower back pain.
Static stretching (isometric contractions) involves gradually easing into the stretch position and holding the position. The amount of time a static stretch is held depends on your objectives. If it is part of your cool down then stretches should be held for 10 seconds, if it is to improve your range of mobility then hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Often in static stretching, you are advised to move further into the stretch position as the stretch sensation subsides.
Ballistic stretching uses the momentum of a moving body or a limb in an attempt to force it beyond its normal range of motion.
Dynamic stretching (isotonic or isokinetic contractions) consists of controlled leg and arm swings that take you gently to the limits of your range of motion. Where the event requires a dynamic movement then it is appropriate and perhaps necessary to conduct dynamic stretching exercises. Start with the movement at half speed for a couple of repetitions and then gradually work up to full speed.
An active stretch is one where you assume a position and then hold it there with no assistance other than using the strength of your agonist muscles. Active stretching is also referred to as static-active stretching.
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.
Isometric stretching is a type of static stretching which involves the resistance of muscle groups through isometric contractions (tensing) of the stretched muscles.