Static stretching is the most common form of stretching found in general fitness and is considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility. To execute a proper static stretch, you would position yourself in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of 10-30 seconds. You never want to perform a static stretch unless you have a good warm up and your muscles have been active for 10-15 min.
Dynamic stretching requires more thoughtful coordination than a static stretch but it is rapidly gaining favor among athletes, coaches, trainers, and physical therapists due to its benefits in improving functional range of motion. Increased mobility in sports and activities for daily living is also a benefit linked to dynamic stretching. A dynamic stretch is performed by moving through a challenging but comfortable range of motion about 10-15 times.
A passive stretch is performed by using some sort of assistance to help you accomplish that stretch. Some forms of assistance may include another person, stretching device, body weight and/or a weight strap. When performing a passive stretch you would relax the muscle that you are trying to stretch and rely on the external force to hold you in place. Keep in mind if the external force is stronger than you are flexible an injury could occur. However, when performed correctly a passive stretch can be very beneficial.
An active stretch means that you are stretching a muscle by actively contracting the opposing muscle of the one your trying to stretch. With active stretching you relax the muscle your trying to stretch and rely on the opposing muscle to initiate the exercise. Performing an active stretch can be challenging due to the muscular force required to generate the stretch but is considered a minimal risk because you are controlling the stretch with your own strength as opposed to an external force.
There are numerous health benefits linked to stretching. Heavily utilized in many fitness regimens, stretching is widely supported today as a vital part of fitness. Stretching has the ability to reduce stress, increase blood circulation, increase flexibility, increase range of motion and may alleviate lower back pain. Stretching should become a part of everyones exercise routine.