Stretching 101

The four types of stretching:

1. Static -- A sustained stretch that is held and leveraged with another limb or against gravity in order to deepen the stretch. Example: Lying on your back and using your arms to pull your legs to your chest.

2. Ballistic -- Your body is placed in a stretched position and then followed with small bounces performed in an attempt to deepen the stretch. Example: Doing the last move and then gently bouncing your legs to your chest. This is NOT recommended, though, because it can cause micro tears in the muscle.

3. Active -- A stretch in which the opposing muscle group contracts and pulls the body into a stretch. Example: Reaching your arms up overhead and pressing back to stretch the upper body.

4. Dynamic – A stretch in which the body or a limb is moved through a range of motion. Example: Extending your arms and then moving them in full circles.

Flexibility is often overlooked, but it's important to take time for a good stretch. Stretching helps overcome postural problems found in people who spend a large amount of time sitting. Stretching is also critical for people with active lifestyles, and especially where the activity is very repetitive, like cycling, running or swimming. So remember, for optimal flexibility, warm up with dynamic and active stretching, and finish your workout with some key, relaxing static stretches and foam rolling.

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