There are several different types of stretching that you can consider. There is a brief description of each below along with general information about how long you should stretch.
If you’ve ever seen anyone bouncing while stretching, this is ballistic stretching. The idea is that it uses the momentum of your movement to push a joint beyond its normal range of motion. This is one of the types of stretching that you should avoid at all costs as it can often cause your muscles to get tighter or cause injury.
Often used in yoga, this involves bringing your limb into position without any help from props or other limbs and allowing only the muscles in that limb to hold the stretch. This can be extremely difficult which is why it’s rarely held for more than 10 seconds at a time, but it’s also great for building muscle.
Like active stretching, passive stretching has you assuming and maintaining a position. However, these stretches are held for a much longer period of time (1 minute or more) because they use props which allow you to maintain the stretch. These are great for injuries as they don’t work the muscles too hard.
This type of stretching involves using your own strength to push past the passive stretch. You assume a position and then push against the prop (or your trainer in some cases) to create a deeper stretch on those muscles which is a great way to engage more of your muscle fibers than passive stretching alone.
This is another type of stretching that involves movement, but is safe and beneficial. With dynamic stretching, you perform sets of specific leg and arm movements that allow your joints to gently and naturally extend beyond their previous limits, exercising them and flexing the muscles at the same time.
PNF stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, and it is essentially uses a combination of passive and isometric stretches to provide even better results than one of these techniques alone. Because of the combination of stretches, this is the fastest way to improve flexibility through stretching.
Timing of Stretches
As we mentioned before, different types of stretching are held for different amounts of time. This is sometimes related to the difficulty of the stretch as with active and dynamic stretches, but the effectiveness of the stretch is also a factor. Although an active stretch may only require 10 seconds to be effective, doing a passive stretch for the same amount of time would not produce any results.
Since most passive and isometric stretches require at least one minute for each of the major muscles, you’ll need to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time for each stretching session. Allowing your muscles to stretch for at least a minute each gives them a chance to gradually stretch out and maintain that position for long enough to impact that muscle for more than a couple minutes after your session
Popular Stretch Training Programs & Their Effectiveness
When it comes to types of stretching there are two programs that are most popular: yoga and Pilates. But before you sign up for the next class being offered in your area, we’re going to discuss what exactly these types of stretching programs are and help you determine how effective they are for you and your aging body.
What is Yoga?
Yoga originated as a spiritual discipline developed by Hindus to combine breathing control, meditation, and different body poses to make spiritual connections. Now, you can find many people who focus only on the health benefits of yoga, which uses both active and passive stretches.
What are the Advantages of Yoga?
Some of the advantages to doing yoga regularly include increased strength and flexibility, improved blood flow, can be used as physical therapy for specific problems, and stress relief. Although there are certainly some difficult poses, an experienced instructor can help you perform modified versions of these or help you find poses that you can do that give you the same stretch.
What are the Disadvantages of Yoga?
First of all, Bikram or Hot Yoga is something you should avoid because there is evidence that this can be dangerous to your health. But beyond that, the biggest disadvantage to yoga is getting a teacher that pushes you too hard which can cause you to injure yourself while trying something you shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.
Bottom line: Yoga is a great way to improve strength and flexibility, but you need to make sure you have a good instructor who will help you accomplish your goals and won’t put your aging body at risk of injury.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a type of exercise that incorporates a mixture of floor exercises and use of specialized machines to improve strength and flexibility. It especially focuses on strengthening your core muscles, and primarily uses dynamic and isotonic isotonic stretches along with various exercises.
What are the Advantages of Pilates?
Pilates is good for the aging body because it strengthens the muscles, especially the core which leads to better posture, improves balance, and increases flexibility and range of motion. It can also be easier for beginners and can be easily customized to help target rehabilitating specific injuries.
What are the Disadvantages of Pilates?
Some of the disadvantages of Pilates are that they won’t help with weight loss, the movements require a great deal of concentration to perform correctly, progress is difficult to track which makes it hard to know how far you’ve come, and if you do have a specific issue, it can be hard to get the individual attention you need in a classroom setting.
Bottom line: Pilates can be a great way to become more flexible and to increase your physical strength, but for people with physical limitations, it may be hard to find an ideal setting in which their concerns can be properly addressed.
Final word: Both yoga and Pilates are types of stretching that can be useful as a training program for the aging body, but not every person can walk into any yoga or Pilates class, so take your time and find the right one for you if you decide to go one of these routes.
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