Do you stretch? Even if you don't exercise at all, you should still be stretching! Everyone should be incorporating some type of stretching into their daily routine. Stretching helps us to not only be more flexible, but it can help our mental state, can lead to a reduction in headaches caused by tense muscles, it can increase our range of motion and aid in workout recovery.
There are a few different types of stretching that can benefit us in different ways.
Static - This is typically the type of stretching thought about when it comes to doing a stretch. This type of stretching involves holding a specific position for a set amount of time. The benefit is that it is effective in creating an increase in range of motion and flexibility. The best time to do static stretching is post workout or in your down time. To have improvement in range of motion, the same static stretches (held for 30 - 60 seconds) should be repeated 4-5 times a week.
Try it! Sit on the floor with legs extended. Cross your right leg over your left and plant your foot on the floor besides the inside of your left leg. Place your right hand on the floor behind you, turn your torso and gently press your left arm against the outside of your right leg in a torso twist. Hold for 30-60 seconds then switch sides.
Assisted - This type of stretch is best for relieving stress and tightness. It's done using assistance from a coach or stretching tool (band, block etc.) to help increase your range of motion through the stretch. Often time during assisted stretching utilization of the breath will be incorporated in order to help enhance the stretch.
Try it! Grab a towel, strap, band or a belt. Sit on the floor with one leg extended, the other tucked in against your inner thigh. Loop the towel around your extended foot holding on to both sides. Drop your head and chest towards your extended leg pulling the towel or straps closer to you with each breath. When you get to your furthest point, hold and breath evenly for 10 seconds. Continue on the opposite leg
Dynamic Stretch - This type of stretch should be done prior to a workout. It is an effective and functional part of your warm up priming your body for you workout. Dynamic stretches are controlled movements with small swings and/or bounces that should be kept within your comfort level.
Try it! Stand with feet shoulder width apart arms by your side. Lift arms up extended by your sides and gently open, close them around your chest. This bear hug movement is a great primer for upper body exercises!
Keep in mind that each type of stretching is going to be different for each individual but that they all offer awesome benefits! Try adding all three into your weekly routine and see if you notice benefits in range of motion and flexibility!