by Vince Galanti
Ballistic stretching uses the momentum of a moving body or limb to extend the range of motion in joints and is not advised. Ballistic stretching will often trigger the stretch reflex. While muscle fibers will elongate quickly, the force of this kind of stretch can often result in tearing. This kind of stretching was popular in the 1980s.
Here, the individual swings the torso or a limb, taking it to the limits of his or her rangeof motion. Dynamic stretching is controlled and involves no bouncing or jerking movements.
What distinguishes active stretching is its degree of difficulty. The individual assumes a position and holds it with no assistance whatsoever. Active stretches are difficult to maintain, even for only 10-15 seconds.
Also known as relaxed stretching, passive stretching is similar to active stretching. The difference is, in passive stretching, you can hold another part of your body to maintain the stretch or have someone help you. Passive stretching helps reduce muscle fatigue after a workout, and is also very good for cooling down.
Static stretching is often confused with passive stretching because both can use an external force or anchor to contribute to the stretch. More specifically though, static stretching requires that you stretch to the farthest point possible and hold the stretch for ten seconds or longer. Isometric Stretching Isometric stretching involves resistance through isometric tension. Using the isometric method is one of the fastest ways to increase flexibility in tensed muscles.
When we go to the gym, we usually focus on the workout—what body part we'll be hitting, what exercises we'll be performing. When we're done, we bask in the afterglow of a job well done. Finishing a workout feels great. We're sweating. We feel a tremendous pump in our muscles. Now it's time to go home. What more do we need?
I'll tell you what you need. Stretching. Stretching is probably one of the most neglected aspects of bodybuilding. Sure, being flexible enables us to reach, bend, twist and turn with ease, making everyday tasks easier to execute. But the importance of flexibility goes far beyond that. Stretching should be the foundation of any solid strength training program.
To begin with, stretching actually lengthens muscle tissue. By increasing length and flexibility, your muscles are less prone to trauma (e.g., strains, pulls, tears). By not properly stretching before you train, your muscles will not lengthen and "adaptive shortening” can occur. Adaptive shortening results when muscles remain in a shortened position for a long period of time, leading eventually to muscle tightness.
Tightness or shortness represents a decrease in muscle length and restricted range of motion. Though reversible over time, you must apply a consistent program of stretching to re-pattern the muscle. Since muscles have memory, they'll want to return to their shortened state. A period of 4-6 weeks of stretching will restore full mobility to tightened muscles.
To get the most out of any stretching program, a bodybuilder should follow some simple rules. Always stretch slowly and consistently-doing so too quickly or "bouncing” can lead to micro-tears. Eventually, micro-tears can produce scar tissue which will only make the muscle less flexible. Hold your stretches between 30 and 60 seconds. When possible, stretch warm muscles since it's easier to strain and irritate muscles when they're cold.