A: There are three types of stretching exercises. The first group is called Static. The muscle is stretched slowly to tolerance and held in position of maximal stretch for a defined period of time. Static routines are the more traditional type of stretches and are commonly used in most training regimens. The static stretch has been proven to improve flexibility, however, studies have suggested that despite advantages in flexibility static stretching may actually decrease athletic performance. The second group is called Dynamic. This type of stretching has been shown to improve agility, speed and strength. The muscle is stretched by moving from resting position to maximal stretch and returned to resting position; motion continues for a defined period of time. Static stretching combined with dynamic stretching may provide the optimal balance of both improved performance and flexibility. The third and final group is called Proprioceptive. Proprioceptive stretching is done when the muscle is contracted directly prior to static stretch of the same muscle. The proprioceptive stretch requires expertise to perform correctly. Static stretches should be held for a minimum of 30 seconds. Benefits of stretching usually fade once stretching regimens are discontinued, however long-term stretching routines have been shown help pain-related issues. When starting a stretching routine to help with pain it is a good idea to see a physical therapist to help create a personalized routine that is built to help with each specific patient and their problems.
Information provided by Mike Burggraaf, PT, DPT, LAT, Core Physical Therapy Inc., 516 Nile Kinnick Drive S., Suite B, Adel, 993-5599.