What type of stretch should I use?
I get this question a lot. The best answer is, all types should be used.
Each type of stretching will create different effects on your neuromuscular system, and can be used with other forms of stretching to help increase flexibility. Regardless of your fitness goals or level stretching should be in your routine.
Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) is a stretching technique that focuses both on the neural and fascial systems. This stretching technique is done by applying gentle force to the adhesions or “knots” in the muscles. This is most commonly done with the Foam Roller. This form of stretching is most commonly suggested before your workout, but it can be used in addition to your cool down.
- Static Stretch – is done by taking the muscle to the point of tension and holding it for a minimum of 30-seconds. The most common belief is you want to do this before your workout, but studies have shown this to decrease performance. It has been shown to be the most beneficial post workout while the muscles are still warm. This is the best known stretch.
- Active-Isolated Stretching – is the process of using agonist and synergists to dynamically move the joint into a range of motion. This form of stretching has been shown to increase motorneuron excitability. This form of stretching is recommended during preactivity warm ups, mostly for sports competition or high intensity training.
- Dynamic Stretching – uses the force production of the body and muscle momentum to take the joint through the full available range of motion. One example of this would be hip swings. This is another form of stretching for the preworkout phase, but due to its slightly aggressive nature, it should only be done with a fitness professional or if you are very experienced.