Your Stretching Routine Matters
New day new blog post. In today’s article I’m going to quickly talk to you about stretching and just generally my perspective on stretching and all the benefits that it brings to your life. So there are many benefits and first we will focus on the different types of stretches that you can do. Now I learnt a lot of this in GCSE PE and A level PE but I also reinforced that learning when I did my personal training qualifications.
So in terms of the different types of stretches you’ve got three different types: static, dynamic and ballistic and each type differs in terms of function so in terms of how they are performed, static stretches are where you are doing a stretch with zero movement, so stretches where the muscle isn’t changing in length whilst being stretched. These types of stretches are best performed after you’ve worked out because dynamic stretches, which will be discussed shortly, are better before you work out for reasons I’ll explain in a minute. An example of a static stretch is where you are pulling your quadricep backwards with your ankle as close to your bum as possible while standing on one leg. Another example is when you are doing a hamstring stretch where you are trying to keep your legs as straight as possible at the knees whilst reaching down as far as you can down your shins to touch the floor. Both of these are examples of static stretches because the muscle isn’t changing length throughout the stretch.
As for dynamic stretches, these types of stretches are where the muscle is constantly changing length whilst the stretch is being performed. An example of a dynamic stretch is alternating lunges. With this stretch you are focusing on opening up your hips, in particular your adductors and abductors. This stretch is a great stretch to do before you do walking lunges with a pair of dumbbells or a barbell behind your neck. As you can probably tell, dynamic stretches are more effective than static stretches before doing any sort of resistance training because you are practicing the movement you are about to do. Static stretches might give you a temporary increase in the range of motion at the joint but they won’t really make you ready for particular exercises and you won’t stimulate muscle memory. This is the number one benefit of dynamic stretches. You feel ready for the resistance based version that you’re about to do.
Ballistic stretching. Ballistic stretching is where you are bouncing whilst stretching. I’m sure you’ve seen on live football matches and other sporting events all the players and all the athletes doing ballistic stretching. Now this is just my perspective, but based on what I learnt from my personal training qualifications and also from A-level PE and GCSE PE, ballistic stretching does increase the risk of injury if it’s not performed correctly. I think generally the message and the underlying tone during those years was that if your technique is wrong, then your injury risk is much higher and generally speaking most people’s technique is wrong so rather than trying to justify that ballistic stretching is just as effective as static and dynamic, it’s easier and more convenient to just say it’s not as good because the risk of injury is much higher.
With that being said, ballistic stretching does require careful consideration and expertise when being performed and it makes perfect sense now that these types of stretches are only performed by top athletes in ecosystems where they have a sport scientist and high-level top-tier coaches who are executing and showing them how to do the stretches properly, probably better than your average PE teacher (no offence).
As for the benefits there are a host of benefits that stretching brings into your life. Stretching makes you perform better when you’re in the gym and when you’re playing sports but it also makes you feel awesome. Particularly on recovery days, stretching can make you feel peaceful and calm. Also you’ll find over time that you start setting yourself stretching goals, meaning, you will try to stretch for longer and you will try to stretch deeper and as your flexibility and range of motion at each joint in your body improves and increases you want to try and go further and further because you realise the benefits and therefore every time you stretch you reinforce those benefits that I mentioned above. There’s nothing quite like setting yourself goals, even when you didn’t realise it would matter to you.
The most obvious benefits for me personally from doing stretching over the years is the increased ability to walk with a purpose and that sounds really weird but generally speaking when I feel more flexible I have more power in every stride. Your squat gets stronger, your jump gets higher and your walk gets faster. All in all, you turn into an absolute machine.
Your stretching routine doesn’t have to last too long. I would highly recommend that your stretching routine is no longer than 15 minutes pre-workout and then post workout it can be as long as 30 minutes. On recovery days, or off days, your stretching routine could be as long as 45 minutes. It all depends how much you prioritise being flexible, being powerful and feeling strong.
Get flexible. Get elastic strength. Feel epic. Cya tomorrow fellas.