Relax. . . Stretch Out

By Stac Miller, AVAC Writer & Editor

Do you stretch properly? Do you stretch correctly? Wondering how to stretch before your workout?

Not a human rubber band? No worries, stretching isn’t all about flexibility. The elasticity of our muscles help balance any compressed movements we make. Stretching actually helps strengthen our muscles, creating a better range of motion for them and in turn a wider range of motion for our muscle contractions to take place in. Although there are four main types of stretching (ballistic, PNF, dynamic, and static) it’s easiest to break stretching down into two simple groups, active stretching, and passive stretching.
If you want to begin stretching effectively and efficiently make sure to do a quick 5-minute warm-up before stretching those limbs. If you stretch cold you could possibly aggravate or pull your muscles.

Active stretching is when you’re stretching through repetitive movement, such as standing facing a wall and swinging a leg side to side to open up your hip flexors. This type of stretching is great to warm up the body if you opt out of a 5-minute warm-up. There are many active stretches that are great for the body, circling the arms, swinging the legs, twisting the torso; and each of these should be performed for a minimum of 30 seconds.

Passive stretching is when you’re holding a stretch for anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute. Holding a stretch longer than about a minute and a half could hyper-extend your muscles, doing more long-term harm than good. Stretching over to touch your toes, standing in lunge position without having your bent knee cross past your toes, sitting and reaching forward, or a simple butterfly stretch for your groins are all helpful.

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