Unlike how many people take it to be an option; stretching should actually be a part of your daily routine. Beginning with warm ups and ending with cool downs have its own set of benefits. Foremost being, it prevents injuries and muscle pulls and prepares the body for the exercise regimen. Stretching also improves flexibility. There are different types of stretches that have been created, keeping different training programs in mind. Some of them have been described below along with the fitness program with which they should be combined:
1. Static Stretching – This stretching is a cool down stretch where you have to stretch your body to its maximum distance and hold it there for half a minute. It is done by staying in one place and does not involve any quick movements. All that you can feel during this stretch is a mild pull throughout the body.
2. Passive Stretching – This is similar to the above stretch with the difference that it requires a partner who provides the stretch. One example is the hamstring stretch where you stand with the wall supporting your back and your partner lifts your leg in a stretch. This stretches the hamstrings and is one that is popularly used by all sports people.
3. Isolated Active Stretch – Trainers and massage therapists use this from of stretch. They hold the position and remain there with the assistance of only the muscles. One example would be the air kick where you kick your leg up in the air and hold it for a count of 30 seconds. It increases elasticity of the muscles and also improves blood circulation.
4. Ballistic Stretching – This encourages a part of the body to be exercised to go ballistic, or in other words, beyond its range. These stretches can cause injury if you are not used to them and should be performed under the supervision of a personal trainer.
5. Dynamic stretching – When your swing your hands and legs in a controlled manner so that they reach their maximum limit of motion, you perform a dynamic stretch. The stretch begins slowly and as your get used to the motion, you increase the speed.
6. Isometric Stretching – This is a kind of stretch where you resist stretching after the muscle has been stretched, creating a pull. So, there are two movements in the opposite directions. You can do this with the help of a partner and ask him to hold your leg high while you oppose it.
All these stretches and a few more increase the flexibility of the body and prepare it for the actual exercise without having to buy any pills, no matter what your age may be. They also increase the flexibility of joints and you will find that the ligaments and tendons are stronger than ever.