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Type of Stretching:

Three muscle stretching techniques are frequently described in the literature: Static, Dynamic, and Pre-Contraction stretches. The traditional and most common type is static stretching, where a specific position is held with the muscle on tension to a point of a stretching sensation and repeated. This can be performed passively by a partner, or actively. There are two types of dynamic stretching (DS): active and ballistic stretching. Active stretching generally involves moving a limb through its full range of motion to the end ranges and repeating several times. Ballistic stretching includes rapid, alternating movements or ‘bouncing’ at end-range of motion; however, because of increased risk for injury, ballistic stretching is no longer recommended. Pre-contraction stretching involves a contraction of the muscle being stretched or its antagonist before stretching. The most common type of pre-contraction stretching is proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching. 

Benefits of Stretching:

Static stretching (SS) often results in increases in joint ROM. Both static and dynamic stretching appear equally effective at improving ROM acutely or over time with training. In contrast to static stretching, dynamic stretching is not associated with strength or performance deficits, and actually has been shown to improve dynamometer-measured power as well as jumping and running performance. The literature is conflicting regarding the effects of warm-up stretching prior to exercise. Static and dynamic warm-ups are equally effective at increasing ROM prior to exercise. Stretching performed as part of a warm-up prior to exercise is thought to reduce passive stiffness and increase range of movement during exercise.

Pre or after training/competition?

Some researchers report static stretching after warm-up decreases performance, while others report no change or an increase in performance. While SS is generally followed by an immediate decrease in strength, static stretching performed before after warm-up does not decrease strength. The volume of SS may also affect performance: Robbins et al  reported that 4 repetitions of 15-second holds of static stretching did not affect vertical jump, while 6 repetitions reduced performance (1). In general, it appears that SS is most beneficial for athletes requiring flexibility for their sports (e.g., gymnastics, dance, etc.). DS may be better suited for athletes requiring running or jumping performance during their sport such as basketball players or sprinters. The SS protocol had a substantial small negative effect on average power in the first sprint when compared to the DS protocol (2). Suggestion is to use SS after training and dynamic or static stretching of 10-15 seconds before training or performance.

Stretching in Rehabilitation:

Stretching is prescribed to increase muscle length and ROM, or to align collagen fibres during healing muscle. Some authors report that both static and pre-contraction stretching are able increase acute hamstring flexibility, while others suggest SS or PNF stretching are more effective. SS has been shown to be more effective than DS for those recovering from hamstring strain. It appears that 6 to 8 weeks of SS is sufficient to increase hamstring length. The benefits of stretching seem to be individual to the population studied. Several factors must be considered when making clinical recommendations from the literature. To increase ROM, all types of stretching are effective, although PNF-type stretching may be more effective for immediate gains.

Researchers have shown that 12 months of stretching is as effective as strengthening exercises or manual therapy in patients with chronic neck pain. In addition, patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain demonstrate an increased tolerance to stretch after 3 weeks of SS. Lewit and Simons reported an immediate 94% reduction in pain associated with trigger points after applying a Post Isometric Relaxation (PIR) technique. These studies support stretching in pain management programs. Some studies noted significant reductions in musculotendinous and ligament injuries following a SS protocol despite nonsignificant reductions in the all-injury risk. There is moderate to strong evidence that routine application of SS does not reduce overall injury rates. There is preliminary evidence, however, that SS may reduce musculotendinous injuries (3).

Here there is a link where you can find some useful tool to perform a proper Stretching Exercises such as: a Mat, Yoga Ball or Resistance Bands which can help you to have the best outcomes and achieve the right goals we discussed in this article. https://mundushealth.com/training/

Resources:

  1. Robbins JW, Scheuermann BW. Varying amounts of acute static stretching and its effect on vertical jump performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 May;22(3):781-6
  2. Zmijewski P, Lipinska P, Czajkowska A, Mróz A, Kapuściński P, Mazurek K. Acute Effects of a Static Vs. a Dynamic Stretching Warm-up on Repeated-Sprint Performance in Female Handball Players. J Hum Kinet. 2020 Mar 31;72:161-172. 
  3. Small K, Mc Naughton L, Matthews M. A systematic review into the efficacy of static stretching as part of a warm-up for the prevention of exercise-related injury. Res Sports Med. 2008;16(3):213-31.

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