Hey…..we all know that each body is different and there is not a set regime that will work for every body. That said, this is the closest I can get to helping you figure out the mystical magical art of stretching. As always feel free to comment or message with questions, and I’ll do my best to help you personalize your stretch routine.
WHO: Everyone. Duh. There are some contraindications to stretching. As always, consult with your physician before you change your physical activity or exercise program. Barring certain medical conditions, stretching is safe and effective for everyone.
- Static. Think old school stretching. Static stretching is a sustained reach/pull/press, typically held 10-60 seconds. The primary purpose is to allow the neuromuscular system to overcome its autonomic resistance to change, which allows the tissue to relax and lengthen.
- Assisted. Assisted stretching can be assisted (with a trainer, yoga strap, band, wall), passive (some clients will nap), and/or with some fancy and effective scientific techniques like PNF, as in Fascial Stretch Therapy (we will talk alllll about FST in another blog post to follow).
- Dynamic/Active. This is one of my favorites, because it involves movement through the full range of motion of one or many joints. Clients love/hate dynamic stretches because they generally have to think about the movement, along with activating the muscles in the core, balancing, and coordinating movement.
- Other flexibility aids (Self Myofascial Release): not an exhaustive list, but SMR/foam rolling is contraindicated for osteoporosis, inflammation, bone fractures, sprains, ligament tears, and bruised tissue.
WHEN: Stretching can be done before or after the workout, early in the morning, late at night, after a nap, etc. There isn’t really a bad time to stretch. The type of flexibility technique does affect efficacy. For instance, typically one will perform SMR before static stretching. One would not do static stretches on prime movers before a power movement, but dynamic stretches are a perfect warmup for power moves.
WHERE: Anywhere you are comfortable, have space, and can safely move. Avoid wet or slippery floors, don’t get struck by lightning, or fall off a cliff. (Are you still with me?)
WHY: Because I said so. Haha. But really. It is good for you. There is a multitude of research on the types and efficacy of stretching, and a wealth of experts agreeing that stretching can improve performance, help prevent injury, improve mental state/reduce stress, and develop a deeper connection with the body.
HOW: Get off your butt and do it. Stretch on the floor in front of the tv. Stretch at your desk. Stretch behind the treadmill at the gym (see “Where”). Start with some free PDFs I have available for download, or try a yoga or TRX stretch class at your gym. Just get moving!