Stretching is a totally natural conditioning exercise that improves the tone and health of muscles; limbers up tendons, ligaments, and joints; changes the dynamics of the nervous system; and just feels good. You can learn a lot about our need to stretch by watching dogs and cats do it. All of us tend to stretch after being in one position for a long time, and students of the human body tell us we ought to make a habit of stretching in opposite ways from the positions we spend the most time in during the day. For instance, if you work leaning over a desk, when you get home you should spend a few minutes with your head, neck, and shoulders arched backward.
Muscles contain stretch receptors, special groups of cells that inform the central nervous system about their state of tension. This may be why stretching can change our level of arousal and mood. Stretching feels good, but it is a sensation that borders on both pleasure and pain. Although some kinds of formal stretching classes may seem painful when you first try them out, your perception of the sensations will change fairly quickly if you practice.
I strongly recommend that you stretch frequently, especially if you suffer from stiff muscles or spend a lot of time sitting or working in one position.
Definition of flexibility
and stretching methods
Flexibility: the ability to move joints fluidly through complete range of motion without injury.
ROM: range of motion at a joint.
Active stretching: technique that involves moving a body part without external assistance; voluntary muscle contractions.
Static flexibility: a measure of the total (ROM) range of motion at the joint.
Static stretching: mode of exercise used to increase range of motion by placing the joint at the end of its range of motion and slowly applying torque to the muscle to stretch it further.
Stretch tolerance: measure of the amount of resistive force to stretch within target muscles that can be tolerated before experiencing pain.
Ballistic stretching: type of stretching exercise that uses a fast bouncing motion to produce stretch and increase range of motion.
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF): mode of stretching designed to increase range of joint through spinal reflex mechanisms such as reciprocal inhibition.
Def: Advanced fitness assessment
and Exercise prescription
Vivian H. Heyward