Flexibility refers to the ability of our joints to flex, extend or circumduct through the joint specific range of motion. Weight training can affect the flexibility in our joints both positively and negatively. Thus it is important to know safe and effective ways to stretch to achieve the desired fitness goals.
Static Active Stretching
Static active stretching is the most commonly seen form of flexibility training and what first comes to mind when people think of stretching. Static active stretching refers to the ability to slowly move an antagonist muscle using only the tension in the agonist muscle to the point of extreme range of motion for the joint being stretched and holding the position. While static stretching is most beneficial for recovery purposes it will have less of a positive effect on increasing range of motion in the joints.
Static Passive Stretching
Static passive stretching is the ability to hold a stretch using body weight or some other external force, such as the involvement of a partner who initiates the movement, while the stretcher relaxes. This type of flexibility training is not the best option for increasing the range of motion in the joints.
Dynamic stretching uses speed of movement, momentum and active muscle movement to bring about a stretch. It is a good way to prepare for physical activities that demand power and speed. It is important to be careful not to exceed the current range of motion of the joints being limbered, the movements used similar to those about to be performed at high intensities. In this way dynamic stretching is more sport-specific than other forms of mobility stretching.
Proprio-Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
PNF stretching is one of the most effective forms of flexibility training for increasing range of motion. It was developed by doctors and requires special training to ensure no injury to the muscles or joints. PNF stretching is defined as “methods of promoting or hastening the response of the neuromuscular mechanism through stimulation of the proprioceptors”. A muscle goes through a series of being stretched, contracted against a resistance, held and then relaxed for a deeper stretched.
Fascial stretching is performed by a trained profession. Rene, as a structural integration therapist, it is something she does regularly. She use a combination of deep-tissue manipulations and stretching techniques to relax and release facial adhesions and tension. When successfully accomplished, the body will be able to not only achieve a natural realignment and increased range of motion, but the client will also experience improved circulation which will promote better overall performance and recovery.