There are three goals associated with stretching; static, dynamic and isometric. Static exercises are the most common, these types of flexibility exercises consist of pulling to the end point, hold for a period of time and then release.
Static exercising is important before you begin your full out exercise routine, they should be done for 10 or 15 minutes prior as they give all the muscle groups and opportunity to get prepared for more vigorous exercises. The pull, hold, release format of static exercising improves circulation, this helps to decrease any tearing or stretching of the tendons.
Ballistic or dynamic stretching exercises are done with a combination of stretching and lunging, at times the lunge is incorporated with a weight. There is considerable controversy about ballistic exercises as they can be potential dangerous to a person who is not at the peak of fitness. Before flexibility exercises of this nature are undertaken, it is important to talk first with a professional fitness guru.
An example of a dynamic exercise is when the individual rests on one knee which is in turn resting on a large ball. The exercise consists of rotating the ball slowly away from the body, reaching the end point and giving a moderate bounce. Another commonly employed ballistic exercise is putting one foot forward, kneeling slightly while slowly bouncing.
PNF is a form of flexibility exercises that couple both static and dynamic stretches. PNF is usually done while in the presence of a fitness expert, these exercises can maximize the range of movement of joints which prepares the body for more strenuous exercising. Many PNF exercises are done with another person, a partner. The muscle group which is being worked on is stretched under tension and then contracted. The partner holds you in position by applying resistance to your movement, the stretch is more effective.
A typical PNF exercise is when you raise your leg vertically; your partner will grab your foot, press back until you feel tension in the hamstring. As you return your leg to the floor you will feel the muscles contract.
Regardless of what flexibility exercises you decide on, make them an important part of the warm up routine. By warming properly, you will maximize the benefits of your strenuous program, your muscles will be better toned and more flexible and there is less likelihood of injury.
To fully understand the dynamics of flexibility exercises you need to watch “Flextasy! The Functional Flexibility System.” This DVD is available on line from Evolution Health.