The elasticity of the (muscle) tissue can be limited by one-sided strains in everyday life. Likewise, a strongly developed musculature (e.g. in the shoulder area) can impair the elasticity of the (muscle) tissue and thus also the mobility of a joint.
Stretches are exercises in the context of an athletic activity in which (muscle) tissue is placed under tension (especially in the longitudinal direction) in order to maintain/improve the mobility of the body.
Stretching exercises in criticism
It is repeatedly reported that stretching exercises only lengthen the muscles in exceptional cases. If the stretching exercises are stopped, the muscles retract back to their original length.
However, regular stretching exercises significantly improve mobility. There are many examples of this. Yoga practitioners, ballet dancers, gymnasts, martial artists are just a few of them. Of course the improved mobility – just like an increased muscle strength – is lost again when the sport and the stretching exercises are stopped (use it – or lose it).
Definition of stretching techniques
There are many names for the technique of the various stretching exercises. Sometimes also several terms for one and the same technique.
On closer inspection, one can reduce the stretching exercises to 4 basic techniques.
Active stretching exercises
Inactive stretching, the stretching effect of the muscles to be stretched is caused by the tension of the muscular opponent (antagonist). Example: By tensioning the knee extensor on the front of the thigh (m.quadriceps femoris), the knee flexor on the back of the thigh (m. ischiocruralis) is stretched.
Passive stretching exercises
Stretching without own active muscle work. Gravity (or the partner) is used to stretch the muscle. Example: The knee is stretched in a controlled way by the partner. This creates a stretching effect on the back of the thigh (m. ischiocruralis).
Dynamic Stretching Exercises
This refers to all springy and swinging exercises with the greatest possible amplitude (movement rash). The actual stretching component is limited by the power of your own muscles.
Static stretching exercises
Taking a stretching position and then holding (5 to 30 seconds – depending on literature), the musculature is stretched to the maximum.
Of course, there are also many mixed forms (and many – sometimes confusing – designations) of the stretching techniques mentioned above, e.g:
The passive-dynamic stretching exercises:
A 2nd person moves a joint (e.g. the knee) several times into the flexion until a feeling of stretching occurs at the front thigh and back again (= dynamic). The leg remains relaxed (= passive).
Or the active-static stretching exercises:
- Reciprocal innervation: The agonist is stretched by the tension of the opponent (antagonist) in the innervation.
- Post Isometric Relaxation (PIR): After maximum tension of the muscle to be stretched in a slight stretching position, a maximum relaxation follows. During this relaxation phase a second person stretches the muscle.
“However, a highly significant improvement in flexibility could be achieved through stretching exercises.”
Possible effects of stretching exercises on the organism
- Improvement of mobility, i.e. enlargement of the amplitude of movement between the neck and the origin of muscles.
- Reduction in muscle tension = detonation.
- Elimination of muscular imbalances or functional disorders, e.g. by stretching tonic muscle groups.
- The probability of possible injuries is reduced.
- Training and competition-specific preparation, e.g. through increased blood circulation in the stretched muscles.
- Shortening of the regeneration phase after tiring muscle training as a stimulus for the removal of muscle metabolites.
- Improvement of general physical well-being.
Exercising stretching exercises
- Stretching exercises, but also relaxation and loosening exercises ideally follow after strength exercises.
- Carry out the stretching exercises with caution, no jerky movements.
- No press breathing!
- Intensive warm-up before each stretch.
- Start in doses, increase gradually.
- Stretch until shortly before pain threshold (risk of injury!)
- The partner should have good empathy during partner exercises.
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