Did you know that there are 2 main types of stretches?
They are Static Stretches – holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds – and Dynamic (or Warm-up) Stretches – stretching muscles while moving.
Static stretching is commonly used in sports, but if you start with a static stretch before an activity, it can actually weaken your major muscles group. This is possible because there is a strain on the muscles and that muscles become less responsive as a result it decrease muscle strength by 30% and stay weakened up to 30 min. after stretching.
The best way to stretch and to lengthen a muscle is to stretch slowly. When you first feel the stretch, stop there and the stretch sensation will go away approximately around 10 sec. then continue to stretch until you feel it again. Repeat this 3 times up to approximately 30 sec., to increase flexibility, you can repeat to a minimum of a minute.
If you just hold a stretch for 10-20 sec. it’s good to do it during the day to release the tension, this will not improve the length of the muscle but it will not harm it as well.
Static stretching is common in amateur athletes and children playing sports. In truth, it doesn’t improve the muscles’ ability to perform, physiologists now agree that after holding for 30 sec., your body and muscle feel that you are able to stretch further, but in reality you have only increased the mental tolerance for the discomfort of the stretch, but the muscle is actually getting weaker.
Dynamic stretching or Warm-ups will actually increase your power, flexibility and range of motion. For example swinging your leg to your opposite arm in front of you is a form of dynamic stretching, or bending down and walking arms out front as far as you can and walking your arms back to your feet. By doing this you are doing 2 thing, you are loosening up muscles and tendons to increase the range of motion of various joints, and literally warming up the body by increasing body heat and body flow. By doing range of motion exercises it activates all joints and connective tissues. More simple dynamic stretches can include squats or lunges.
There are discussions on the extent to which dynamic warm up can prevent injury. But studies have shown that static stretching alone before exercise does little to nothing to help the muscles, and their performance after warming up with stretching is likely to be worse than if they hadn’t warmed up at all.
Check out http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/sports/playmagazine/112pewarm.html/
for more information.