Shot of young man and woman stretching in the park. Young couple warming up in morning.

Different Types of Stretching and How They Can Benefit Your Health

The sedentary lifestyle that many of us live takes a toll on our bodies. Our bodies need to move, breathe, and get enough exercise to keep our muscles free from tension and knots.

That said, doing all of those things is easier said than done when you have a very busy schedule. If your life doesn’t accommodate the kind of exercise you need, it’s important to incorporate different types of stretching to keep your body feeling well.

We’re going to discuss a few different types of stretches, along with how they can benefit a person’s health. Hopefully, the information below can help you stay in good health.

Let’s get started.

Why Stretching Is Important

It can seem like stretching is only important if you’re about to do some sort of physical activity. It’s true that stretching before exercise is a crucial thing to do, but it’s important that stretching is a normal part of your life in general.

Even if you don’t do very much strenuous exercise, stretching helps to keep your muscles in good standing to take care of all of the things that you need to do in life. When you fail to stretch muscles, they start to shrink, joints lose lubrication, and they become less able to fulfill their duties.

After some time, your muscles will be in a dangerous position. If you happen to need to use muscles suddenly, they won’t be strong enough to do their job. You’ll pull muscles, get strains, and wind up in a lot of pain.

Even if your muscles don’t end up straining, they’ll lose a little longevity if they’re not used. Those who don’t maintain activity are at higher risk to lose mobility of joints and muscles in older age.

Instead of aging with the ability to move freely, you might start to take on significant muscular issues and lose mobility.

Required Maintenance

Before we get started with the types of stretching to explore, we should give you an idea of what’s required for it to actually make a difference.

Stretching feels good immediately, and it might make a difference in the way you feel throughout the rest of the day. That said, one or two sessions of stretching won’t do much to help you in the long run.

Further, to experience lasting differences, you’ll have to wait a month or two to get loose. You’ve been following the same patterns over and over, getting your muscles into a tense state through the actions you repeat. So, it will take some time to get those muscles back into their proper state.

Expect to stretch on a daily basis for that length of time before you feel as though you should. You might be very surprised at how much better your body and mind feel once your muscles are in working order.

After that point, you should keep a healthy stretching schedule indefinitely. It might be a bother to sit down and stretch every day or every other day, but the payoff is that you maintain mobility for a lot longer.

The beautiful thing is, there’s a multitude of stretching options for you to explore. Some of them even tap into the realm of spiritual and religious practice.

Different Types of Stretching

The same old stretch time and time again can get boring. Further, it’s hard to access all of your muscle groups with one particular form of stretching.

Mixing things up and using various stretching exercises is a great way to keep things interesting.

You should also note that getting each muscle group and muscle every time you stretch isn’t essential. It would be almost impossible to get that much done.

When you stretch one muscle or muscle group, odds are that you’re also stretching a number of others. The body’s muscular system is connected in such a way that each muscle is intimately connected to the next. The whole system links up.

So, while you might not reach all areas of the body during one session, you’ll hit a number of them. If you mix the routine up and stretch all areas over the course of the week, you’ll have stretched your whole body well a number of times.

So, without further adieu, let’s look at your options.

Static Stretching

Static stretching is the act of isolating a single muscle group and stretching it with a particular motion. Once you get into position, you hold your position for ten or more seconds.

You can repeat the stretch two or three times with short breaks in between to reinforce the stretch. This is a good option for individuals who have very specific injuries or areas of tightness. Focusing on one muscle group allows you to address the area of injury and accelerate relief.

If there’s a spot that tightens up as a result of your job or something that you do often, it would be wise to incorporate a static stretch of that area into your routine.

That said, some of the other options in this list might be good places to focus for a full-body stretch.

PNF Stretching

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) usually involves a partner, and operates with a sense of motion and dynamics. For example, many PNF stretches require someone to add a slight amount of force to the muscle you’re stretching, and hold that force for a few seconds.

Then, the muscle is released and the stretch loosens for a moment or two. The partner would then reapply force and repeat the stretch for a number of reps.

This is a common way for athletes to work with physical trainers. It allows the individual to achieve a deeper stretch than they would be able to make if they were on their own.

There are also PNF stretches that work on something called reciprocal inhibition. The idea is that there’s an agonist muscle that tends to cause pain or irritation in a particular area. That muscle is always connected to another muscle on which it is dependent.

By contracting the independent muscle, the dependent muscle will loosen and relax itself. Repeating this process allows the motion of that muscle to extend and lighten up, relieving pain and preventing more injuries from occurring.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching that requires the individual to move their entire body. It’s akin to the idea of “warming up” before a sports event.

If you recall from your sports days, the team would get together and perform a number of short exercises that loosened the muscles and got everyone ready to play. In doing so, the individual works a number of muscle groups and contributes healthy blood flow around the body.

Further, dynamic stretching allows the muscle to get active at the same speed that you would require it to move in action. Sitting down and doing a slow stretch of the hamstring is one thing.

Using that hamstring to full extension at a high speed is another. The speed and manner in which you use the muscle contributes a unique element to the situation.

If you’re only used to slow stretches, your muscles won’t be ready to handle the kind of work that, say, soccer would entail.

It’s smart to incorporate a little bit of dynamic stretching into your week, even if you’re not someone who engages in a lot of athletic activity. You never know when you’ll have to run to grab your grandkids.

Yoga Practice

Yoga isn’t deemed as one of the “types of stretching” because it’s more of an all encompassing practice. That said, it’s a smart thing to think about doing if you’re looking to get a well-rounded routine in.

The practice of yoga tries to target all areas of the body in a light routine that’s easy on the body and good for the mind. You can turn up the intensity if you like, but yoga requires that you’re moving for a period of time, shifting your muscles and stretching all the while.

You can do it in the comfort of your own home, and you don’t need to be in any kind of shape to start. Just stream a video of an online yoga teacher for beginners.

If they do something that’s out of your wheelhouse, just wait for the next pose to start. This is a great way to get engaged with the body and start to loosen up numerous areas all at once.

You might have a set of stretches that you’ve done since you were young, and that’s fine. The thing is, there are a lot of tiny little muscles in spots you didn’t know existed.

Yoga allows you to access those areas.

Interested in Different Types of Stretching?

Hopefully, the information above was helpful to you as you start your fitness journey. There’s a lot more to learn though, and we’re here to help.

Explore our site to learn different types of static stretches, new types of stretching exercises, and more general information on the different types of stretching.