Stretching and How to stretch ?

How to stretch ?...That question always appear at the internet but How ? The basic stretching is not going to far but “No pain no Gain” The first You must use your tights, or leotard for keep your muscles warm. Warm up is very usefull for increase your cardiac output and increase the body temperature. Remember, warm up is not stretching, but light stretching is a warm up.

Stretching exercises are designed to increase range of motion. Flexibility is defined as the ability of the muscle to relax and yield to a stretching force; as such, flexibility exercises are used to increase length of the musculotendinous unit. The term flexibility exercise is often used synonymously with stretching exercise, as is done here unless it is otherwise necessary to make the distinction.

Several general guidelines should be followed to enhance the effectiveness of stretching exercises and to minimize the risk for injury. Before stretching, local application of heat or engagement in light active exercise to elevate body temperature may be beneficial because it increases soft tissue extensibility. Massage and biofeedback may be employed to promote relaxation and to decrease muscle spasm, making it easier to stretch tight muscles.

If mobility of a joint surface is limited, mobilization techniques are used before stretching exercises. Athletes should stretch until tightness is first perceived. Stretching exercises should avoid forcing the joint beyond the normal range of motion required for athletic activity. Stretching exercises should not be performed in the acute stages of healing.

Stretching during this period may jeopardize the healing tissue and aggravate inflammation. During this time, range of motion exercises rather than stretching exercises should be used.

Stretching exercises should not cause a persistent increase in pain that lasts longer than 1 to 2 hours. Caution must be used in stretching across the fracture site of a newly united fracture. Stretching exercises should not be used in an attempt to increase motion that is limited by a bony block.

Stretching exercises may be performed actively or passively. During passive stretching, the stretch is produced by forces external to the body. The external force can be applied manually or mechanically. Manual passive stretching exercises are performed by the physical therapist or athletic trainer.

Passive mechanical stretching is performed by use of a mechanical device to apply a low (5- to 10-pound) external load to the shortened tissues. Passive mechanical stretching may be performed with the use of ankle weights or other mechanical equipment. In active stretching, the stretching force is created by active voluntary contraction of the athlete's muscles. Active stretching allows incorporation of the neurophysiologic principles of stretching, which are discussed later.

Stretching exercises may be cyclic or prolonged. Cyclic stretching refers to a stretch that is maintained for a short time (i.e., less than 10 seconds) but performed for many repetitions. Prolonged stretching, on the other hand, consists of low-load stretches that are maintained for longer times for a fewer number of repetitions. The length of a prolonged stretch is variable and may range from 30 seconds or more to several hours, depending on the patient's level of tolerance.

The total end-range times for repeated cyclic and prolonged stretches may be similar. Prolonged stretching may result in greater permanent lengthening of contractile and noncontractile tissues; however, cyclic stretching may be better tolerated by the athlete.
Stretching exercises can also be performed statically or ballistically. A slow static stretch is less likely to elicit a stretch reflex response.

Ballistic stretching refers to a high-intensity, short-duration stretch that results in rapid lengthening of the muscle, which in turn stimulates the muscle spindle and facilitates a stretch reflex. The musculotendinous unit is susceptible to microtrauma with ballistic stretching. Ballistic stretching may be beneficial immediately before engaging in exercise, but it should be performed only after a warm-up that includes slow static stretching.

When the athlete demonstrates limited range of motion in the subacute or chronic phases of healing, stretching exercises are indicated to regain the motion that is necessary for athletic activity. Stretching exercises can also be used to correct muscle imbalances that result when a muscle group is tight and its opposing muscle group is weak.

In general, the tight muscle group should be stretched before strengthening exercises are performed to improve strength of the opposite muscle group. Stretching exercises may also be indicated before activity as a warm-up and after activity as a cool-down. Proper warm-up and cool-down minimize the risk for musculotendinous injuries associated with physical activity and sports.