The maximum distance you can passively stretch your muscle around a joint defines the term “Static stretching”. An example of this is the stretch you feel, when you try to touch your toes.
You perform this type of stretching routinely to ensure that the muscle lengths are lengthened, when in a resting position to improve the overall posture of your body. This especially helps a person during the rehabilitation period, reduces incidents of injury and enhances performance in various sporting activities.
Anyone, who has a problem with stiff muscles, can perform these passive stretching exercises three or four times a week. You can feel the difference by performing any of the three main types of static stretching exercises that concentrate on the increase of muscle length. The end results are achieved by lengthening the muscle mechanically or by using the central nervous system to affect the same result.
The muscles that require to be stretched
The muscles that feel stiff and need to be relaxed are the ones to be concentrated on. One may find it difficult to decide which ones to stretch, but if the muscle is tight, it can result in injury. Tightness of the muscle is relative, as one cannot determine whether flexibility of movement is good or not, unless one compares it to the behaviour of the other muscle groups. One can get injured even if one side of the body is stiffer than the other. Therefore, being able to touch one’s toes or performing hamstrings better with the left leg, rather than the right leg are all relevant factors to avoid injury.
Perform some stretch tests to determine which muscles are tighter than the rest. Concentrate on focusing on those muscles and change your stretching moves to alternate between the muscles that become more flexible or stiff, as the situation demands.
Know when to stretch
It is important to remember to perform static stretching exercises, after a session of stretching routine in the daytime actively. That is when the body loosens up and one can make good progress. Do not try to do them before getting into bed late in the night.
Vital factors to be considered
Stop when you begin to feel pain when you stretch, as it is advisable not to overdo the stretching. Many people try to overdo the stretch and suffer severe back pain due to this. It is better to follow certain techniques patiently. Work at it slowly, but steadily and try not to worry about how long to hold each stretch. Rather, concentrate on the tension created on the muscle and work accordingly.
Methods used for stretching
Basic hold – Stretch till you feel the tightness of the muscle. Hold for about twenty to thirty seconds.
Hold and relax
Stretch to a point where the muscle is comfortably tight and holds that position for about twenty to sixty seconds until the muscle begins to relax. Inhale deeply and stretch until you reach the next level of tightness. Repeat.
Hold and contract
Stretch to the position where your muscles are tight. Contract the stretched muscle firmly for about five to ten seconds. Now relax and count up to three before stretching the muscle tightly again. Repeat the contraction again for five to ten seconds. Do this for about five times and then do another stretch before repeating this again.
The art of static stretching
By following some simple stretch tests, you can determine which muscles require to be stretched. Try stretching the entire body to discover which muscles require to be stretched more than others are.
Target your tight muscles by performing stretch exercises. You can concentrate on any stretching exercises that work for you to get you the desired results without worrying about being injured in any other part of the body.
Do this for at least three or four times a week, ideally after a good workout or when you are in the house. Make sure you stretch just enough to feel the tightness and not overdo it. Concentrate on the hold and relax or hold and contract exercises for stiff muscles and try not to get your partner to stretch your muscles for you, as they may push too hard and hurt you in the process.
The ideal time to perform stretch exercises is after a good workout and when you are cooling down. Complete all exercises that involve running before you start on static stretching. You will benefit by increase of flexibility and less recovery time. Be cautious about doing this before a workout for your own good. The advantage of static stretching is that it helps the muscles to grow in size by actually stretching the muscle fibres. You also end up strengthening your muscles much faster.
Try incorporating different activities when you learn to stretch during a warm up session or cooling down one. Light cardio is highly recommended along with stretching before a workout. If you are attempting specific lifts, try to do two light sets before doing them and then a few static stretches. You will find that you stand less chances of injury and recover in record time.