There are so many different forms of stretching, but for simplicity's sake, I like to mainly focus on two different types: static stretching and dynamic stretching.
Simply put …
- Static stretching is when you hold a position for a period of time.
- Dynamic stretching is stretching through continuous movement.
Without a doubt, both have their places in fitness. However, if placed incorrectly around an exercise or event, they can be a detriment to what you're trying to accomplish.
So let's get down to the meat of it.
If you are going to focus on static stretching (which you should), hold the stretch for a period of two minutes. According to Dr. Andreo Spina who created Functional Range Conditioning, tissue quality begins to change after or around two minutes. Most of the time, you will find that your flexibility is not improving because you simply are not holding the stretch long enough. I also recommend practicing static stretching after your event or training session. Studies have shown that too much static stretching before activity can actually hinder performance.
If someone is comes to me for training, I might throw some static work in before the workout, but this mainly occurs when they are moving so poorly that they need more of it.
For the average Joe, I recommend dynamic stretching before the routine. Dynamic stretching involves performing a very broad list of exercises for repetition or for time.
What exercises should you be doing? It all depends on your level of flexibility and what you need to be focusing on for your personal program. For myself, I have around five movements I use as my go-to exercises. These are:
- Neck Rotations: Perform in as many different directions as possible
- Shoulder Rotations: Both directions
- Hip Circles: Both directions
- Cats and Dogs: For thoracic extension
- Reach backs: For thoracic rotation
As you can see, this is a very quick and easy way to get the body primed, loose and ready for action. The warm up should be somewhat quick; you get your body temperature to rise, but you are not spending so much time that it hinders performance. One size doesn't fit all. The key is to find your formula and expect to deviate from that formula because day in and day out, the body changes.
Hope this helps