For the average person, stretching is stretching. Most people are unaware that there are multiple forms of stretching, including dynamic, static, and active stretching. It’s likely that you are familiar with static stretching, which involves going through the motions that you’ve observed or learned over the years. As it turns out, active stretching is the most beneficial form of stretching.
What Is Active Stretching?
Active stretching is a form of static stretching, but it involves remaining in a position that isolates the muscles that you want to stretch. If the stretch aims to target the hamstring, you only use the muscles in that area to hold the pose. For example, during the pose, you contract the muscle group that you’re stretching and relax the opposite muscle group. This actually can deepen the stretch and improve range of motion. You don’t need external forces to increase mobility with active stretching.
What Does Research Say About Active Stretching?
Active stretching is based on reciprocal inhibition, meaning that you voluntarily contract one muscle group and relax the other muscle group. This allows you to go deeper into the stretch. A review in 2012 compared active stretching to passive stretching, in regards to muscle loss prevention. The majority of the research indicated that active stretching helped prevent muscle atrophy, whereas passive stretching didn’t do much. Other research from 2015 found that actively stretching the hamstrings improved flexibility and knee flexion more than people who passively stretched.
If you don’t regularly engage in active stretching, we recommend starting now. It may help to improve performance, accelerate recovery time, and improve range of motion and flexibility. See the following benefits below.
Active stretching works to improve circulation to your muscles by gently stimulating them. In doing so, you can experience less tension and pain in the targeted areas. It’s not a and done and done quick fix thing, though. You have to regularly engage in active stretching to help relieve pain. This has been proven with athletes who experienced an injury and used active stretching for recovery.
Please don’t think that active stretching replaces strength training because it doesn’t. It does help to maintain your strength, though. According to a study from Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, people who actively stretched their legs for 40 minutes several times a week improved their one-rep max by 32% in 15 different exercises. People also improved muscular endurance, standing long-jump, vertical jump, and more.
One of the most common benefits of all stretching is that you can improve your athletic performance. For active stretching, engaging the muscles during the stretch can improve performance in those areas. By improving mobility, range of motion, and overall flexibility, you have a better chance at performing better and reducing the risk of injury.
With regular passive stretching, you address general pain or work to increase flexibility. More often than not, people aim to stretch areas of pain, but don’t correctly address the affected muscle group. Active stretching allows you the opportunity to cater your stretches to the areas of pain. You can look up videos online about specific active stretches for your needs, or you can visit a stretch therapy center. You can read more about stretch therapy by clicking here.
Better Form During Exercise:
If you are a workout enthusiast, then you understand how optimal form is paramount for reducing risk of injury and targeting the muscles you actually want to strengthen. Most people engage in exercises with improper form all the time. No matter what type of exercise you do, you can always improve your form by actively stretching. As we stated earlier, active stretching can lead to better performance and improved muscle strength. Healthier muscles and flexibility allow for full range of motion, which makes it easier to successfully perform the exercise.