Types of Stretching Exercise and their Benefits

Stretching is probably the most overlooked exercise but they give tremendous health benefits to the human body such as:

  • reduced muscle tension
  • increased flexibility or range of movement
  • enhanced muscular agility
  • increased blood circulation and oxygen distribution throughout the entire body
  • increased energy level

Below are types of stretching exercise that you can use to stay healthy:

Static Stretching

This is the most common type of stretching exercise which can be performed 10-30 seconds. This can be used for cooling down after a training session. The following are static stretching exercises:

  • chest stretch
  • biceps stretch
  • upper back stretch
  • shoulder stretch
  • shoulder and triceps stretch
  • abdominal and lower back
  • hamstring stretch
  • calf stretch
  • hip and thigh stretch
  • adductor stretch
  • groin stretch
  • front of trunk stretch
  • Iliotibial band stretch
  • quadriceps stretch

Breathe normally when performing these exercises.

Passive Stretching

This type of stretching is similar to static stretching. The only obvious difference is that, passive stretching is a technique in which you relax and make no contribution to the range of motion. This is usually done with the help of a fitness partner.

Dynamic Stretching

This type of stretching increases your mobility and can be part of your warm up exercises before your training session. The following are dynamic stretching exercises:

  • neck mobility
  • shoulder circles
  • arm swings
  • side bends
  • hip circles and twists
  • half squat
  • leg swings
  • lunges
  • ankle bounce

Breathe normally when performing these exercises.

Ballistic Stretching

This type of stretching uses the momentum of the body to extend the range of motion.They usually involve bouncing and swinging of limb through its full range of movement. A good example would be swinging your arms or bouncing down to touch your toes. Ballistic stretching increases your flexibility. This is not your regular stretching routine, therefore it’s also a fun way to try something different. But don’t be overly aggressive when doing ballistics in order to avoid tissue injury.

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)

AIS was developed by Aaron Mattes. It aims to stretch muscles effectively with low risk of injury. A good a example of AIS is stretching by bringing your leg up high and holding it in that extended position with the help of a fitness partner or a rope. AIS is beneficial for runners.

Isometric Stretching

Isometric stretching consists of getting a muscle into a stretched position (just like static stretching) and then resisting the stretch isometrically. An example of isometric stretching would be having a partner hold your leg up high while you attempt to force your leg back down to the ground.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)

It is a technique of combining passive stretching and isometric stretching in order to achieve maximum flexibility. PNF was originally developed by physical therapists for rehabilitation purposes. PNF consists of a muscle being passively stretched, then contracted isometrically against resistance while in the stretched position, and then being passively stretched again through the resulting increased range of motion.

PNF usually employs the use of a partner to provide resistance against the isometric contraction and to then take the muscle through its increased range of motion.