Stretching Guide at a Glance
What it is: Hold a stretch in a challenging, but not painful position for 10 to 30 seconds until feeling discomfort; once this is felt, the muscle then releases and relaxes.
Benefit: Improves flexibility.
Active (aka Static Active)
What it is: Engage and contract the muscle group opposite the one being stretched to initiate the stretch; repeat. Many yoga poses are examples of active stretching.
Benefit: Increases flexibility in the muscles being stretched and increases strength in the opposing muscles.
What it is: Employs an outside force such as a stretching device, strap or another’s body weight such as a trainer, physical therapist or massage therapist, which assists the stretch while the individual remains passive. The targeted muscles are not actively engaged. Examples include post-workout stretches applying pressure with a body part, towel or other prop or piece of equipment.
Benefit: Increases range of motion, decreases muscle tension (spasm) and reduces post-workout soreness and fatigue.
What it is: This involves controlled, gradual movements and stretches that involve repeated range of motion moves, especially in relation to a specific activity or sport that will follow the warm-up.
Benefit: Prepares the body for activity and warms the muscles; especially advantageous after static stretches. Builds strength.
Primary sources: Fitness Science; and Scott White, a power trainer in Scottsdale, AZ.
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[Note to Publishers: You may use only the video section if you’re short on space.]
Dynamic Stretching: The Revolutionary New Warm-Up Method to Improve Power, Performance and Range of Motion, by Mark Kovacs
Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching and Their Benefits, by Jack Cascio
Exercise Balls for Dummies (including safe stretches for pregnant woman) and Stretching for Dummies, both by LeReine Chabut
Stretching: 20 Simple Stretching Techniques to Relieve Pain and Increase Flexibility, by Neb Notliar
Online Video Instruction
StudioSweatOnDemand.com (on-demand classes)
DoYogaWithMe.com (free yoga videos for all levels)
StretchCoach.com (informative articles and videos)
ClassicalStretch.com (videos from the PBS series Classical Stretch)
FunctionalPatterns.com/dynamic-stretching-routine (free dynamic whole body warm-up)