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Stretching and Flexibility Exercises

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We may do the stretching in various ways. Each method is suitable for different situation. We will do the pre-exercise stretching in a different way than after physical load when waste products leave the body.

The stretching is different at various sports – at gymnasts, athletes and other sports. People who spend a hard day in office or at computer do the different stretching.  It is important to keep certain regularity and methodical rules.

Most people do the stretching actively statically for removing unpleasant tension in muscles with an intention to stretch their body for better physical and mental feeling.

Flexibility is connected with the ability or facility of soft tissues (muscles, ligaments etc.) to enable movement in a certain range. These basic goals should remove restrictions of movement and keep or extend the range of movement on the basis of exercise to increase flexibility.

stretching exercises for seniors

How to stretch • photo: Vicky Timón • Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises

Dynamic exercises focused on the increase of flexibility are connected with stretching.

Stretching can be:

  • passive
  • active
  • static
  • dynamic

The most famous form of stretching for an average person is active stative stretching.

Passive stretching

Passive stretching includes some external power like gravitation or another person who stretches given muscle or a group of muscles. If we lie on the back for example and somebody lifts our leg to stretch bicipital muscle that is a passive stretching.

hip flexor stretches

Stretching exercises • Photo: Northfield Mount Hermon • www.flickr.com

Active stretching

Active stretching requires muscle power for movement and muscle stretching. To put your leg out of lying position, we have to join the hip and knee muscles, lift the leg and stretch the bicipital muscle of the thigh.

Active stretching

Active stretching exercise • photo: Bahrain Personal Fitness • www.flickr.com

Static stretching

Static stretching includes lifting the joint and muscle stretching until its end of its possibilities and then keep this position for a certain time of stretching, usually 30 seconds or longer.

static stretching after running

Static stretching after workout • photo: Stefano Salonia • www.flickr.com

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching also raises the range of movement, its extension but it is reached with the help of movement. Dynamic stretching uses static stretching but then it moves and repeats itself.

It means active movement until the end of movement range and back but only with a short break (if it is) until existing final point.

Stretching techniques

Stretching techniques • photo: Vicky Timón • Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises

Techniques of dynamic flexuosity are also convenient for the movement which is not the main goal of stretching which enables fluent stretching into diagonal angles or no demanding rotating angles while the muscles remain highly strung.

dinamic stretching exercises

Examples of a dynamic stretching • photo: Vicky Timón • Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises

This type of  flexuosity  exercise will enable you extend the movement within the tension from more angles. Active stretching (as well as static, also dynamic) also enables techniques for flexuosity  exercise called reciprocal inhibition.

Importance of stretching before and after a physical activity

Stretching is a special way of slow movement activity, which is used for stretching the muscles. At the same time, it increases joint flexibility and removes muscle and mental pressure.

Why is stretching important

The task of stretching is to optimally stretch and develop joint flexibility without negative side effects, lower the muscle tension after physical activity and keep the joints in elasticity.

Stretching is suitable backache prevention. The stretching methods are used not only in sport but also in curative rehabilitation.

Stretching is also used as prevention to injury – pulling or tearing the muscles, to prevention of some muscle illnesses-tendonitis etc. It also improves the prevention of several joints injuries.

Stretching positions

Vicky Timón – Encyclopedia of Pilates Exercises

Stretching prepares body for physical activity with its effects, for more intensive performance, that’s why it is a necessary part of each sporting activity.

Several specialists suggest stretching before training, but most of the studies recommend heating the muscles and then stretch them.

Stretching and flexibility

stretching exercise before run

Stretching exercises • Photo: rangizzz • www.flickr.com

Shortened muscles have a compensating effect on weakened muscles and that is the main reason of wrong body control. We can influence correct body control with regular stretching exercise and remove the muscle imbalance which is often a reason of many functional disorders and aches.

The flexibility is together with power, speed, endurance and dexterity one of the basic movement abilities. In other words, flexibility is an ability to perform movement in a great joint range.

The meaning of mobility is not only in the range of the movement but also in a prevention of injuries. Sufficient mobility decreases the risk of extending, tearing or even cutting the muscles when there are not coordinated movements.

Mobility is influenced by several factors

Classical stretching

Classical stretch • Photo: Minoru Nitta • www.flickr.com

  • It is an anatomic construction of joints, their shape and type. For example by women, there is greater joint mobility caused by the fact, that joints of women are smaller and enable higher range of movement.
  • Another factor is the power ability of muscles which take part in a given movement. Age, temperature of outer environment, exercising and warming the muscles, tiredness and psychical state of the person are also very important.
  • Activity of reflex system i.e. stretch reflex. If there is too intensive stretching, especially receptors, so called inside the muscle cause reflex contraction and protect the muscle against forcible unnatural positions

The development of joint flexibility

Warm up exercises

Warm up exercises • Photo: Agoge Martial Arts & Fitness • www.flickr.com

It is very important to develop joint flexibility from an early childhood. Not only sportsmen often load their body only on one side. Its result is seen on weakening and shortening of certain muscle groups and the condition of the spine.

The joint flexibility reaches its peak at the age from eight to twelve years. If joint flexibility is developed in a wrong way too much before this age, there is a risk of joints and ligaments injury.

The children do not have sufficiently firm ligaments and articular capsules. That is why violent stretching may have serious consequences in adulthood. Excessive joints loosening and pulling the muscles causes hypermobility and luxation of joints.

TRX training and stretching

Exercising using TRX suspension trainer improves flexibility and locomotion. Although these terms are very similar, they are not the same. TRX combines passive and active elements.

Trainees can easily get into strung position and endure tension passively until the end of TRX which will support the log of the body and then they can actively return from strung position back and TRX exercises can be repeated according to the need.

trx flexibility stretches

TRX exercises for stretching and flexibility • phozo: Donavan Brown • www.flickr.com

As the log of the movement on TRX is weakened, deep stretching is enabled. TRX suspension trainer is a really special tool for developing and extending the mobility and flexuosity.

It is caused especially by enabling gravitation as the „delimiter“ of another increasing of final  because it enables the body integrated movement of stretching and contraction.TRX trainee can so stretch all chain of related and dependent muscles in a dynamic way, more than isolated stretching of certain muscles in a static way as was status quo for a long time in the attitude to flexuosity training.

Stretching on TRX can be done by dynamic and static way before or after training.

Ways of stretching on TRX:

TRX dynamic stretches

We use stretching as a warmup before TRX exercise. We stretch and relax the muscles and do not stay in any position long and we change the positions quickly.

yoga stretches using TRX

Yoga stretches on TRX Suspension Trainer • photo: Youbeauty.com

TRX static stretches

We do the stretching after TRX exercise. We stay in each position until medium discomfort- 30 to 60 seconds. We move within each stretching exercise according to the progress we make.

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Exercise during the day

Morning or evening exercise has certain advantages. If we exercise in the morning, we have a feeling of new energy. We recommend warm up the muscles and connection parts before stretching.

Stretching before sleeping decreases tension which gained during the day.

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Conclusion

We should exercise so long so that we feel tension or effort. We should exercise so that we expand the range of movement which includes joints but never beyond the border of pain.

  • Not to hold the breath
  • Relax
  • Ease stretching; we help to relax the muscle

When we do the stretching on TRX, we must be patient and allow gravitation suck deeply into every movement. We should not try to do each stretching with the power of muscle.

A great advantage of TRX for stretching is the movement in three layers 3D which enables to place the body into the angle that is optimal for tension of each muscle.

Stretching and Flexibility Exercises
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