Static Stretching: The classic type of stretching, where you reach for a full range of motion and hold. Such as sit and reach.
Dynamic Stretching: An active movement through a full range of motion, that will warm up the muscles for specific movements. High knees and butt kickers fall into this category.
Ballistic Stretching: A bouncing movement, where maximizing mobility is the goal, by taking the movement into a deeper range of motion with each bounce. This stretching technique can be very dangerous and lead to injury.
PNF Stretching: PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) is a stretching type that is a combination of both static and dynamic stretching. Holding then relaxing and repeating is a common aspect of PNF stretching as well as incorporating multiple limbs or joints with the same stretch. This activates the nervous system to increase mobility.
How should I stretch before my workout?
Prework dynamic stretching is where it is at. You want to warm up those muscles, increase blood flow, and take muscles through the full range of motion they will experience during your exercise routine.
Before you workout you want to avoid static stretching. This will lengthen out your muscles and tendons, but not warm the muscles up, putting you at higher odds for injury, while also minimizing power output. Try 30 seconds of the following: high knees, butt kickers, side to side hops, bodyweight squats, lunges, arm swings, and arm circle to toe touch (circle arms, lifting opposite leg out straight reaching for the toe, and alternate sides)
How should I stretch post-workout?
Once you are through with all the sprints, heavy lifting and hard work, static stretching is a great way to reduce soreness, improve flexibility, and cool down. Be sure to use static stretching immediately after your workout while your muscles are still warm. Focus on targeting all major muscle groups, specifically: quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, low back, chest, and arms.
Be sure to warm up properly before all workouts using dynamic movements, and feel free to throw in those classic static stretches post workout. PNF stretches can replace static in your cool down, and can be incorporated into your warm up as well.
iFit Head Trainer