Everyone knows that stretching and gaining flexibility is a great way to help reduce the chance of injury, but you may be unaware of the different types of stretching and when each type is optimally used.
Below I have explained the two main types of stretching with examples for the lower limbs that you can practice at home.
Dynamic Stretching is when you stretch the muscle in an active repetitive motion. This is best used within a warm up preparing the body for the range of motion ahead. An example of dynamic stretching is leg swings.
Leg swings- Using a wall, fence or object next to you for support, swing one leg forward and back like a pendulum. Ensure your posture is tall and the rest of the body is upright, all of the range of motion should be coming from the hip joint. Gradually ease into the movement and increase the range of swing over time. Aim for 20 leg swings then swap legs.
Static Stretching is when you hold the stretch of the muscle for a period of time, normally around 30-40 seconds. Static stretching is best to be preformed after exercise when the muscle is warm.
Below are some examples of lower limb static stretching for the quadricep and hamstring.
Hamstring- Standing on one leg with your other leg placed up on an object in front of you. Maintain a slight bend in the leg on the object in front. Without changing the angle in your knee, tilt your hips forward/stick your bum out. You should feel the stretch through the middle of the back of your thigh, the muscle belly of the hamstring.
This is a preferred way to stretch your hamstring, compared to bending forward and touching your toes, as it is targeted to where the bulk of the muscle fibres are located, thus giving you the best results.
Quadricep- Using a wall, fence or object next to you for support, stand on one leg and bend your other leg at the knee to bring your foot towards your bottom. Push your hips slightly forward. You should feel the stretch through the front of your thigh.
Please stop if any stretch causes pain and as always get clearance from your health professional before starting any new exercise.