There are three major types of stretching:
1.) Ballistic -This stretch uses the momentum of your moving body (or part of) to force it beyond its normal range of motion. It is a “bouncing” motion into or out of a stretched position. This type of stretching is reserved for a select few as it is not wise for the beginner exerciser.
2.) PNF - Currently the fastest know way to increase flexibility. It is a combination of passive stretching and isometric stretching. a sort of isometric contraction/relaxation. This is best done with a partner or an apparatus such as a wall, etc., to provide resistance.
3.) Static - Sometimes referred to as Passive Stretching, is where a muscle (or group of muscles) is stretched to its farthest point held and then relaxed. This type of stretching is what you may find in most Aerobic & Fitness classes.
Other types of stretches are Isometric (not recommended for children or seniors), Dynamic (“jerky” movements), Active (tensing/releasing), Passive (use of apparatus or body part).
Remember to breathe normally through your stretches. Exercise programs that incorporate breathing along with stretching like yoga, tai chi, qi gong, etc., not only will help you improve your flexibility but will aid you in proper breathing techniques that will ultimately help reduce stress and stress related problems such as high blood pressure, etc.
You can accomplish many benefits from a simple 15-minute workout done 3-5 times a week. You will be able to condition muscles, lubricate joints, strengthen muscles, and increase flexibility and overall appearance.
Begin slowly. Relax into every stretch. Hold each stretch 15-30 seconds. Breathe normally-don’t hold your breath!
Do not rush through the stretches. Relax into each and every one. Take time to breathe and let go of any tightness that you feel, any blockages to your well being, any thoughts that are hindering you and weighing you down. Forget the “hurry up” and get through the routine. Play soft soothing music, light a candle, or burn incense. Anything to make this time a special time just for you to enjoy. Visualize the muscle, or muscle groups, that you are working with. Feel them elongate. Delight in the movement of your body.
Stretching should be done before and after every workout, even before and after a walk around the block. Do not stretch to the point of pain and do not bounce into your stretches. It is also a wonderful way to wake up in the morning. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning you can stretch arms overhead and toes pointed downward, circle the ankles, flex and point your toes, turn your head from side to side, and take a deep breath. Fill your mind with positive thoughts before starting your day and you will set a positive tone for the rest of the day.
Consult your doctor before beginning this or any other exercise program.
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