Stretches for every scenario.
You might know the names of a few of your favorite stretches, but do you know what category of stretching they belong to? Stretches can typically be sorted into one of four categories using the following two variables; Static or Dynamic, and Active or Passive. But what do these words mean?
Let’s begin with Static/Dynamic. To determine which of these describes the stretch, we need to assess whether our joints move, or remain in a fixed position. If the joint is moving, the stretch is Dynamic, and if it stays in one position, the stretch is Static.
Next, to determine Passive/Active, we must ask ourselves if the stretch requires the strength of the muscle group being stretched. Is the stretch is one you can fully relax your muscles in, or is it a stretch that requires you to exert force? In a Passive stretch, we are not using our muscles. The movement may be led by gravity, a prop, or a stretch partner, but not the muscles being stretched. On the other hand, in an Active stretch, the muscles in the area being stretched are working to exert power.
Stretches can be any of the following— Static/Active, Static/Passive, Dynamic/Active, or Dynamic/Passive.
Each of these four combinations are useful for different purposes, and training using a combination of them is what will give us the most benefits.
Dynamic Active stretches are great for warm-ups, and at a lower intensity can be great for mobility training. High kicks are an example of a Dynamic Active stretch!
Static Active is the best type of stretching if you’re really trying to widen your range of movement, and get stronger too. A standing split is a perfect example of a Static Active stretch. Although we are remaining in a fixed position, to stay in this position we must activate our muscles to keep that leg raised high in the air.
Dynamic Passive is a great move if you are stretching with another person such as a stretch pattern or physiotherapist. In this pose your partner is able to direct the stretch while you remain relaxed, which is beneficial for ensuring alignment and form.
Static Passive is typically what we think of when we think of stretching. Since static passive requires little to no muscle force, it’s a relaxing form of stretching great for cool downs and restorative stretching sessions. An example of a Static Passive stretch is our splits!
Understanding these categories and what stretches fall into each group can help us stretch more efficiently. Certain types of stretches are beneficial for different points in our workout or flexibility training session.