Flexibility is a huge part of the big picture when it comes to your overall fitness. There are a few different types of flexibility – corrective, active, functional – but I am going to specifically weigh in on corrective and functional flexibility today. There are so many myths out there surrounding stretching… When should I stretch? How should I stretch? Should I even stretch at all? These are all common questions that I hear relating to stretching and flexibility. Static stretching and dynamic stretching are two of the most widely known forms of stretching, which are both different types of corrective and functional flexibility.
Corrective flexibility is used to help improve muscle imbalances and altered joint motion. Static stretching falls under corrective flexibility. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), static stretching “is the process of passively taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding the stretch for a minimum of 20 seconds.” In other words, static stretching is one of the most traditional and commonly known ways to stretch. Standing with your legs straight and reaching for your toes while holding it for 20 or more seconds would be an example of static stretching. There are tons of static stretches you can do, but a few examples include:
Standing Gastrocnemius (Calf) Stretch
Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Deltoid (Shoulder) Stretch
When should static stretching be done? Static stretching may be done before and/or after your workout. I personally prefer to use static stretching as a cool down to my workouts. My muscles are already warm, so it’s easier for me to stretch them. It’s also a great way to mentally and physically cool down your body after an intense workout.
Functional flexibility is “integrated, multiplanar soft tissue extensibility, with optimum neuromuscular control, through the full range of motion” (according to NASM). Whoa, pretty loaded explanation there, eh? In other words, functional flexibility is more of an advanced level of flexibility. It is a movement with no compensations. Dynamic stretching falls under functional flexibility. According to NASM, dynamic stretching “is the active of extension of a muscle, using force production and momentum, to move the joint through the full available range of motion.” A prisoner squat or a walking lunge (using body weight) would be examples of dynamic stretching.
When should dynamic stretching be done? Dynamic stretching is recommended for those with good levels of tissue extensibility, core stability, and balance before undertaking this more advanced form of stretching. It is a great pre-workout warm up as it warms up your muscles and gets you moving. Dynamic stretching is personally one of my favorite ways to warm up for my workouts. It mentally and physically prepares me to get psyched up for my workout.
Ok, I’m going to stop there for now. I could go on and on about this, but I don’t want to get too overwhelming or wordy. I’m thinking of doing a mini series on flexibility since there is SO much information surrounding this important topic. What do you guys think? Would you benefit from this? Let me know!
- Would you like to see a mini series on flexibility/stretching?
- Do you incorporate static and/or dynamic stretching within your workouts?