To Stretch or Not To Stretch
One of the Lab’s we teach at PFTA-Austin is called the “Stretch Test”. It is an assessment
that can help determine the mobility and flexibility of ligaments. However, the stretch test is often overlooked by many in the fitness industry. Not because it isn’t important, but rather we assume that we all know what stretches to do before a workout and how to stretch the right muscles.
When going over the lab, our instructors start with the basics of stretching and warm-ups to prepare for a workout. Stretching is usually the last thing on earth anyone wants to do. But the reality of it is, that if we were to implement stretching into our everyday routines, we can become more flexible, mobile, and actually gain strength more efficiently. Now the term “stretch” is a broad term, we all have learned the basic stretches from our PE classes; but the questions we should be focusing on is: what kind of stretches should we do? What areas are we going to focus on today? What type of stretch should I do before a workout and after?
While those questions may seem overwhelming with the correct guidance and education on the topic you can become a Flexibility Training expert! I have broken down some of the basic terminologies we use in our program to introduce the topic to our students.
Stretches can be broken down into two categories- Active and Passive:
Active-Book term; Involves the use of force produced by the client to apply a stretch. What this means is; The person/client is stretching on their own.
Passive- Book term; Involves the use of an external force such as a partner, gravity, or stretching device to apply a stretch to a flaccid body segment. What this means is; The person/client stretching has someone else helping them reach their full potential of the stretch.
Within Active and Passive stretching there are two styles commonly used, Dynamic and Static. This is very important especially if you or your client are consistently lifting heavy weights.
Dynamic- A type of flexibility stretching that requires movement through the whole stretch. This provides for a great warm up and improved range of motion. This type of stretching will also allow range of motion gains related to specific movements employed during training.
Static- Performed in a slow controlled manner to a terminal range of motion to recruit that stretch reflex. This type of stretching requires the person/client stretching to pause/hold the stretch for a certain amount of time (30-60 seconds on average). We recommend this type of stretching to be done after a workout, because this type of stretching can reduce power/force output in training as well as injury.
Again, while this topic may seem tedious and unnecessary it is incredibly important to protect your joints and muscles while working out to avoid short-term or long-term injuries. If you are interested in learning more about Flexibility training, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject: Flexibility Training). Or check out our Programs to begin your career in the fitness industry!