Who out there gets confused with HOW to stretch and WHEN to stretch?!
Hi, I'm Zoe, PPF Mat, Reformer, Barre & Stretch instructor. I've also been a dancer for most of my life, so stretching is extremely important to me!
We all know that stretching has so many benefits, but how do we do it effectively to achieve the best results, and when should we be doing it? Before we dive into those two key aspects, it’s important to know that there are two different ways to stretch!
They are - Dynamic Stretching and Static Stretching!
Knowing the difference between the two is crucial to getting the most out of your stretching routine.
- This refers to any stretching that is performed with movement.
- For example, instead of holding a lunge to stretch the hip flexors, you would be moving in and out of the lunge several times.
- This type of stretching helps circulate blood through the body/muscles and also creates better range of movement within the joints.
- Dynamic stretching is a great way to warm up the body BEFORE exercise. It also helps prepare the body for what movements are about to be performed during the workout which can decrease the chance of injury.
- It also can be thought of as an ‘active resting’ form of exercise on days where you don’t feel like working out but know your body would benefit from movement.
- It’s important to note that you should not be trying to push the body to any sort of ‘end of range’ movements, take these movements slowly and gently.
- This is where there is no movement performed during the stretch.
- This type of stretching is held from anywhere between 30 seconds to 5 minutes (depending on the pose).
- This type of stretching is great AFTER exercise.
- Static stretching allows the muscles to remain in an elongated position to avoid muscle tightness after a workout which can help prevent injury.
- It’s important to note that you should only feel a gentle stretch through the muscles when Static Stretching, otherwise you run the risk of over stretching or pulling muscles which can do more harm than good!
There is actually other form of stretching that often gets overlooked – TRIGGER POINTING! Personally, this is my favourite way to release tight muscles and often helps the stretching process!
- This is where a specific muscle/muscle group is targeted and pressure is applied to the area to release it.
- This can take anywhere from 10 seconds – 1 minute.Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely not the most relaxing way to release tight muscles but it’s very effective!
- Trigger pointing is the most versatile form of releasing muscles as it is safe to perform before or after exercise.
- Trigger pointing can be done with a foam roller, tennis ball or even just your fingers!
- It’s important to note that you shouldn’t be in excruciating pain when trigger pointing muscles. You should feel pressure and then the muscle release within a short time period.
- Perform dynamic stretches before exercise,
- Perform static stretches after exercise and
- Trigger point anytime in between!
Lastly, listen to your body and what it needs at the time.
Happy stretching everyone!
If you think Pilates is mainly stretching, think again! Click here to read why Pilates is a good form of exercise!