This is the next question that we cannot skip. According to my experiences there are some group trainings where they do not deal with stretching after training or deal with less than necessary is. Usually during an hour training they don’t use stretching or there is no possibility for own stretching because the next group comes. That doesn’t lead to the right way for long term. After some trainings we complain about pain in our calf, back or neck, that we suffer for days and it causes inconvenience in our work or daily life. Often the problem is we didn’t do stretching enough or at all.
Let’s see the benefits of regular stretching after training. For instance increased range of motion, physical and mental relaxation, reduced muscle strains, risk of back problems and joint sprains, muscular soreness, improved capability of circulation and air exchange, improved posture (Alter 1998, Fredette, 1998).
The stretching has more types which matter when we use them. Now we are talking about stretching after training but I need to mention the warm up stretching as well. First of all let’s see the methods. There are two methods, active and passive. The active has three types, ballistic, static, dynamic. We use these for warm up, however the most commonly used is dynamic stretching with 10-15 repetitions by controlled movement which follows the specific movement of sport (Alter, 1998), for example leg raises to stretch hip flexors.
The passive method that we use after training, it has two types, static and PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation), that developed by Herman Kabat in the late 1940’s (Kabat, 1958). We use the static stretching for 10-15 seconds without bouncing, that helps to maintain shortened muscle to the original size. There is the static developmental that increases flexibility, range of movement at the joint. Let’s see how to use it: stretch the target muscle till the tension and hold it for 10 seconds then relax. Stretch again but increase the range of movement and hold for 10 seconds. Finally repeat again with increased range of movement. It causes pain and many people don’t like it but it’s worth it.
According to PNF, the target muscle gets relaxed state by the „switched off” stretching reflex (Radák, 2019). When we stretch the antagonist muscle the target muscle gets the relaxed state. For example, the target muscle is the hamstrings than we need to perform an isometric contraction on the quadriceps during stretching. There are some different developmental methods. We can use the PIR (post isometric relaxation) with partner or trainer. Its goal is that we perform an isometric contraction on the target muscle for 6-8 seconds during stretching. Let’s see the hamstrings again. We can use it standing or lying position. The partner lift the leg up by the heel and then perform an isometric contraction on the hamstrings by 20-30 per cent of force for 6-8 seconds then relax. Repeat it 2-3 times. Practice it with an advanced partner or trainer.
The range of movement at joint is very important factor of performance in the sport and our daily life. We can avoid injuries by relaxed movement and become more flexible, dynamic. Therefor I recommend the stretching after training for 10 minutes. If we would like to develop flexibility, we need to stretch 40 minutes or an hour. During watching TV it’s the best time to deal with stretching. I recommend stretching every day but for development it’s very important to do warm up for 5-8 minutes. Never stretch „cold” muscles that can cause injury.
Alter, M. J. (1998). Sport stretch, 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics
Fredette, D. M. (1998). Exercise Recommendations for Flexibility and Range of Motion, In ACSM’s Resource Manual for Guidelines for Testing and Prescription (J. L. Roitman ed.). pp. 456-465. 3rd Edition. Williams and Wilkins
Kabat, H. (1958). Proprioceptive Facilitation in Therapeutic Exercises. In Therapeutic Exercises (Licht, M. ed.). pp. 150-164. Waverly Press
Radák Zs. (2019). Edzésélettan, Budapest, Krea-Fitt Kft
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