While flexibility might appear to be about long and stretchy muscles, in fact, much of your flexibility is pre-determined at birth – dependent on the shape of your joints. The architecture of the joint – its shape and the thickness of the cartilage – account for 85% of your flexibility. This is something which is written in your genes and cannot be changed, no matter how hard you train. 10% is achieved through safe and sensible stretching of the muscles and the final 5% is based on other factors which we are less able to control, such as age, gender, levels of body fat, the temperature of the environment and stress.
Involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both.” Do not confuse dynamic stretching with ballistic stretching! Dynamic stretching consists of controlled leg and arm swings that take you (gently!) to the limits of your range of motion. Ballistic stretches involve trying to force a part of the body beyond its range of motion. In dynamic stretches, there are no bounces or “jerky” movements. An example of dynamic stretching would be slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or torso twists.
Dynamic stretching improves dynamic flexibility and is quite useful as part of your warm-up for an active or aerobic workout (martial-arts class). Dynamic stretching exercises should be performed in sets of 8-12 repetitions:
Active stretching is also referred to as static-active stretching. An active stretch is one where you assume a position and then hold it there with no assistance other than using the strength of your agonist muscles
For example, bringing your leg up high and then holding it there without anything (other than your leg muscles themselves) to keep the leg in that extended position. The tension of the agonists in an active stretch helps to relax the muscles being stretched (the antagonists)
Active stretching increases active flexibility and strengthens the agonistic muscles. Active stretches are usually quite difficult to hold and maintain for more than 10 seconds and rarely need to be held any longer than 15 seconds.
Passive stretching is also referred to as relaxed stretching, and as static-passive stretching. A passive stretch is one where you assume a position and hold it with some other part of your body, or with the assistance of a partner or some other apparatus. For example, bringing your leg up high and then holding it there with your hand. The splits is an example of a passive stretch (in this case the floor is the “apparatus” that you use to maintain your extended position).
Slow, relaxed stretching is useful in relieving spasms in muscles that are healing after an injury. Relaxed stretching is also very good for “cooling down” after a workout and helps reduce post-workout muscle fatigue, and soreness.
Many people use the term “passive stretching” and “static stretching” interchangeably.
However, there are a number of people who make a distinction between the two.
Static stretching involves holding a position. That is, you stretch to the farthest point and hold the stretch.
Passive stretching is a technique in which you are relaxed and make no contribution to the range of motion. Instead, an external force is created by an outside agent, either manually or mechanically.
Notice that the definition of passive stretching given in the previous section encompasses both of the above definitions.