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Stretching: The Truth, The Flexicon

Fitness

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Assisted/passive Most traditional stretches use an outside force—such as your hand, a partner or your own body weight—to help you achieve a stretch. Example: Raise your arms straight out from your sides; then have a partner pull them behind your back to stretch your chest.

Unassisted/active The force for these stretches comes solely from contracting an opposing muscle. Example: Raise your arms straight out from your sides. Use only your back muscles to pull them as far behind you as you can, stretching your chest.

Dynamic These stretches involve constant, fluid movement of a joint back and forth through its full range of motion. They should not be confused with ballistic stretching, which involves bouncing or jerky movements and is considered risky. Example: Raise your arms straight out in front of you and tap your hands together; then use a controlled movement to bring your arms as far as you can behind you, keeping your arms straight. Without pausing, bring them back to the front, and repeat.

Static More common than dynamic stretches, these are held for a certain length of time. Example: Raise your arms straight out from your sides, and use only your back muscles to pull them as far behind you as you can, stretching your chest, and hold the position for 10 seconds.