What is Stretching?
Assisted stretching offers an advanced form of flexibility training that involves both the stretching and contraction of the muscle group being targeted.
Types of Stretching
Static stretching is the most widely used form of individual stretching, forming the basis of exercises such as a yoga. Ballistic stretching (e.g. when bouncing to touch your toes) is not to be recommended.
The individual makes no contribution, as the therapist provides an external force to assist the muscle to its fullest range of motion, sustaining the stretch for 30-60 seconds, taking into consideration the client’s pain threshold and the feeling of muscle limitations.
Typically integrated into a massage session, and used in the rehabilitation of injury and persons with paralysis. Relaxed stretching is also very good for “cooling down” after a workout and helps reduce post-workout muscle fatigue, and soreness.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching
Originally developed to rehabilitate stroke victims, PNF stretching increases flexibility and range of motion through a combination of passive and active stretching, using the practitioner as a force of resistance.
Typically, the muscle in focus will be elongated almost to its limit, with the stretch held for 6-7 seconds, followed by a 2-3 second relax, when the pressure is reapplied, thus stretching the muscle even further. The whole process is completed 3-5 times, until maximum stretch has been reached. PNF stretching is not recommended for those whose bones are still growing, and should not be repeated within a 36 hour period.
Active Isolated Stretching
A technique developed by Aaron Mattes, this technique uses active movement and the theory of reciprocal inhibition to achieve greater flexibility. The muscle being focused upon will be lengthened to its maximum stretch, then intensified for 1-2 seconds, then returned to the limb starting point – a sequence repeated 8-10 times. This technique improves range of motion, increases and retains flexibility, and strengthens and balances the muscular skeletal system.