man doing a leg stretch while holding a dumbbell

The benefits of stretching are promoted all over our social media feeds, yet we rarely make time for it.

There are few activities you can do everyday that host the wide range of benefits of stretching. 

So today, we're exploring the different stretching styles to help you find a method you'll stick to and achieve the results you want.

black woman with braids raising her hands to stretch

Types of Stretching

Did you know there are seven ways to stretch? You’ll soon learn toe touches are just the gateway stretch into a world of flexibility.

Ballistic Stretching

Bouncing in a stretch may look like a fast track to injury but is known as ballistic stretching when done correctly. The bouncy moves trigger and relax the stretch spasm reflex, making it perfect for warming up. Ballistic stretching is ideal for boosting athletic performance but ensure you know your stretching limits so you don’t get injured.

Best for: Playing sports

Ballistic stretches to try: Ballistic Pancake, ballistic core stretch.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching uses active, controlled moments to warm up your joints and muscles thoroughly. To complete a dynamic stretch, use fluid movements that challenge the mobility of your joints.

Best for: Warming up

Dynamic stretches to try: Leg swings, high knees, arm circles.

Active Stretching

Active stretching uses your muscles to get into and hold a stretch and we often see it used in Yoga. In an active stretch, you move in and out of stretches, using your muscles to push yourself further and transition in and out of the stretch. A key benefit of active stretching is it helps you better control your body weight, leading to a better quality of life.

Best for: Getting stronger

Active stretches to try: Downwards dog, lunges, half-kneeling hamstring stretch

Passive Stretching

Passive stretching gives your muscles a day off and uses external forces such as gravity, a partner, or props to guide your stretch. Passive stretches are great for keeping cortisol levels low, improve your overall flexibility, and encourage mindfulness.

Best for: Cooling down

Passive stretches to try: Laid down butterfly stretch, towel-guided hamstring stretch, partner-led quad stretch.

Static Stretching

Static stretches are non-moving stretches that you hold for a set period of time. For a deeper stretch, you can use your breathing to gradually stretch further before the stretch ends. Static stretching is your go-to for a calm, centred stretch session, leaving you feeling more flexible and at ease.

Best for: Any day, any time.

Static stretches to try: Toe touch, calf stretch, side bend.

Isometric Stretching

Isometric stretching involves flexing your muscles while holding a stretch without moving. This method of stretching builds your mind-muscle connection and can greatly benefit your overall performance in sports and weight lifting. However, the strength element of this stretch makes it not ideal for children or the elderly.

Best for: Building strength

Isometric stretches to try: Wall sit, side plank, glute bridge.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching

PNF stretching, also known as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, is often used by physiotherapists. This method also involves stretching and contracting muscles but typically requires a second person to guide the stretch. By actively contracting and relaxing muscles, PNF stretching improves flexibility and broadens joint range.

Best for: Recovering from injury

Active stretches to try: Reclined hamstring stretch, reclined quad stretch, assisted side stretch.

man stretching

The Physical Benefits of Stretching

Stretching is quick, low-stress, and offers a long list of benefits. If you aren’t already convinced, here are the benefits of stretching:

Increase your flexibility

Flexibility refers to the range of movement your muscles and tendons can deliver. Stretching will improve how far you can comfortably push your muscles without injury.

Increase your mobility

Mobility refers to the range of movements your joins can deliver. Stretching will improve how far you can comfortably push your joints without injury.

Improve your stability and posture

Stretching techniques such as lunges strengthen your muscles and build flexibility. As a result, you become stronger overall and are less likely to fall or suffer from bad posture due to low mobility.

Reduced your chance of injury

Finally, as stretching allows your muscles, tendons, and joints to increase their safe range of motion, you reduce your chance of movement-related injuries.

The Mental and Emotional Well-being Benefits of Stretching

Stretching is also brilliant for your mental and emotional well-being. The enhanced blood flow to the brain during stretching boosts cognitive function and mood. Incorporating stretching into daily routines can also increase mindfulness and your sense of well-being.

Incorporating Stretching Into Daily Routine

You can become that person who stretches every day, we promise. It just takes a little perseverance. Our top tips to stretch every day are to:

Pick a trigger to stretch

Whether it’s a specific time you always stretch or always stretching after walking the dog, stacking stretching onto an existing daily activity will make it easier to maintain.

Know your stretches ahead of time

Plan which stretches you want to do so that when the time comes, you don’t get distracted while looking up routines on your phone.

Track your stretches and aim for a less-than-perfect week

Our third and final tip is to track the days you stretch to get a sense of satisfaction and progress. But remember to give yourself a few days off so the habit can stick even when life gets busy.

man stretching on the ground

5 Essential Tips for Stretching

  1. Consistency is Key: Make stretching a daily habit to maintain flexibility and prevent injury.
  2. Focus on Breathing: Deep, controlled breathing while stretching enhances relaxation and improves the effectiveness of each stretch.
  3. Targeted Stretching: Identify the muscles or areas you want to improve and tailor your stretching routine to focus on those specific areas.
  4. Use Props and Tools: Use props such as foam rollers, resistance bands, or yoga blocks to effectively deepen stretches and target hard-to-reach areas.
  5. Combine Stretching with Strength Training: Integrate stretching into your strength training routine to enhance flexibility, mobility, and recovery, promoting overall fitness and performance.

Can Stretching Aid in Weight Loss and Calorie Burning?

Stretching can help you lose weight and burn more calories by waking up your muscles and requiring a certain level of repair daily, which is a calorie-expensive activity. Stretching can also improve your workouts, leading to a higher calorie burn.

How Often Should I Incorporate Stretching Into My Workout Routine?

You should incorporate stretching into your routine as often as is sustainable for you as an individual. We recommend adding stretching to the start and end of your workouts or making time for 5 minutes of mobility work before or after bed every day.

Did you know there was so much to the world of stretching? Flexibility is a specialised skill that athletes spend time honing and improving. Our qualified coaches help newbies and experienced gym-goers overcome plateaus and introduce new skills. If you’d like to learn more, read about our coaching services or get in touch on our website.