A Quick Primer on Stretching

Stretching is a very subjective topic. Different people respond very differently to various styles of stretching.

So heres a look at the main styles of stretching (various people/training systems may lay claim to inventing or owning some of these methods. They’re wrong.)

Static Stretching.

Static Stretching has a more appropriate name that is used by Pavel Tsatsouline in his book Relax into Stretch, he calls it “Wait Out The Tension” And that’s an apt description of what actually happens. You assume the stretch position and you hang out there until that position becomes comfortable and then you go a bit further. Simple.

My office this morning If you’re open to it, you’ll almost always find opportunities through your day to keep the body running smoothly and prevent the decline. #wgfamily #ikff #irishfitfam #staymobile

A post shared by Dave Hedges (@dave_hedges) on May 13, 2016 at 3:36am PDT


Dynamic Range of Motion

My personal favourite so if you follow my work, the one you will be most familiar with.

There are two main ways to employ DROM.

Either moving through a full range gradually expanding that range as you warm up as shown by Dave here:

Davey in for his lunchtime iron supplements. Here he’s warming up using a lateral lunge to dragon lunge step. Focus is keeping the static foot flat on the floor and alternating between stretch loading the adductors/hamstring on the lateral lunge and the quads/glutes on the Dragon lunge. Big movements like this are phenomenal to warm up with. #wgfamily #mobility #warmup #ironsupplements #laterallunge #dragonlunge #irishfitfam #dublin2

A post shared by Dave Hedges (@dave_hedges) on Oct 21, 2016 at 4:34am PDT

Or if you wish to develop a specific range, go into the stretch and begin gently pulsing to deepen the stretch and then release it.

As shown by Karolina here:

Karolina working on opening the thoracic. This is a drill shown to me by @emmetlouis and if programmed right greatly benefits the BJJ player #wgfamily #BJJ #thoracicmobility #lats #mobility #warmup #irishfitfam #dublin2

A post shared by Dave Hedges (@dave_hedges) on Jul 25, 2016 at 4:41am PDT

This method can be done for very high reps to get rapid increases in mobility, but as a warm up and cool down anything that gets the joints back moving is adequate.


Contrast Stretching

A bit like dynamic in that you’re moving deeper in that stretch space. Only for contrast you’re pulling yourself deeper by contracting the opposite muscles. So for a hip flexor stretch, you will contract and release the glutes, for a Hamstring stretch you’d pulse the quads. The works on reciprocal inhibition where if a muscle on one side of a joint is pulling, the opposite side will relax to allow movement.


Ballistic Stretching

Basically dynamic range of motion but on steroids. This is using force to ballisticly load the tissues in their end range, going way beyond your voluntary range of motion. Leg swings would be an example. This is very effective but should be built up slowly, start your practice in a range of motion that you can barely feel, them gradually increase both speed and amplitude.

Dynamic hamstring stretches As taught to me by a Wu Shu expert many years ago. He emphasised the downward portion of the movement, you’ll hear my exhale as I do the same This strong contraction from a lengthened position aids in end range strength development. The best thing about this stretch is the feeling that you’re in a kung fu training montage….. Quick word of warning, make sure to get well warmed up for these. While they are very safe to practice, do a few rounds of low kicks before gradually working higher. I can go higher than shown here, but I’ve a lot of tightness in the body from the weeks training so have chosen to limit the height. #wgfamily #ourrescue #hyletenation #hamstrings #dynamicstretch #mobility #flexibility #kungfu #wushu #martialarts #muaythai #bjj #mma #irishfitfam #ikff

A post shared by Dave Hedges (@dave_hedges) on Feb 26, 2016 at 10:08am PST



Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Which is a real conversation killer if you say it at a party! This is the physio’s favourite. In Contrast, you flex the opposing muscle to the one you stretch. In PNF you flex the one you are trying to stretch. So if you’re stretching your Bicep, you go to the stretch position and them try to bend your elbow. This typically sucks, but it does work.

There are more than these, I may add them  to this post as and when I remember them, but these are the key players.


Why do they work?