Stretching makes up a large part of every yoga practice for its flexibility and mobility benefits.
This week at the Activ Life we are discussing three different types of stretching and the benefits that each provide.
Dynamic stretches are lively stretches that rely on momentum to flow the joints and muscles through a full range of motion. They can be used to help warm up your body before exercising. Dynamic stretches can mimic the movement of the activity or sport you are about to perform. For example, a swimmer may circle their arms before getting into the water.
In this technique you hold a pose while exclusively utilising the muscles within the group that is being targeted. It involves active contracting of one muscle (the agonist) to stretch an opposing muscle (the antagonist), with no external force. Active stretching is non-moving because the end position of the stretch is held for a set amount of time. But instead of holding your stretch using a prop, such as a strap, you are simply holding the stretch with other muscles. An example of active stretching is lying down on your back, extending one leg up to the sky, and pulling your toes towards your face to stretch the hamstring. This method of stretching is often performed after exercise. Some studies suggest a potential decrease in muscle strength and power when performing static stretching before a workout.
Passive stretching is a type of stretching in which you stay in one position for a set amount of time. You can relax your body while a partner or prop intensifies the stretch by putting external pressure on your body. You can also use the floor or a wall. Once you are in the deep stretch, you hold the position for at least one minute. It is excellent for enhancing your balance and overall flexibility and can help calm the nervous system. My favourite example of passive stretching is legs up the wall.
Miranda Morris is a yoga instructor for Activ Life, a leading health and wellness company based in the Cayman Islands. If you enjoyed this article you may also like: Yin versus yang yoga and The juiciest shoulder openers.