Static vs active stretching

Did you know there are tonnes of different types of stretching available to you? There are also different types of muscles in your body that come into play when you stretch yourself out. We are going to focus on static and active stretching today.

Static stretching

Static stretching is when you are still and hold your stretch. E.g. You step your right foot forward, drop your left knee and keep hips over your right right. This is a form of static stretching.

Within the family of static stretching, here are a few static stretches:

  • Assisted static stretching where you might use a prop, like a tennis ball, underneathe a muscle. This is what I often teach in yin yoga to guide students into a deeper stretch to release knots in the body.
  • Isometric stretching which involves placing your body against a static object. An example is place your palms against a wall and applying your body weight into the wall as you stretch your back calf muscle. Find out more via this article.

Active stretching

Active stretching is when you may flow from one pose to another in yoga. For example, moving from tall mountain with arms extended above the head to forward fold where you bring the chest towards your legs. Have a look at this image from Stretch Coach.

Ballistic stretching involves dynamic and big body movements, like leg or arms swings to incorporate joint mobility. Read about ballistic stretching here.

Notice the type of stretching that you are drawn to. Each type of stretching has its place and purpose.

During a yoga vinyasa class, we generally start with static stretches to warm the body and joints, gradually moving into more dynamic stretches. In a yin class, there will be less movement.

To give you an idea of how I plan my stretching through the week, I will stretch for 5 minutes before I go to the gym and post gym, I will practice yoga and go through vinyasa flows and sun salutations. If my body is particularly tight, I will opt for longer static holds and guide myself into yin yoga and restorative poses to release lactic acid. So, have a look at your personal schedule through the week taking into account your family life, daily movement, work, exercise program and see how yoga can complement your activity to enable you to make yoga work for you.

What are the benefits of stretching?

  • Alleviate muscle soreness
  • Release lactic acid
  • Help your range of movement for daily life and also exercise goals
  • Lengthen the muscles

When you incorporate your breathing exercises and awareness into stretching — boom! You are practicing yoga. 🙂

Send me any questions!

Here’s to more stretching this week alongside deep breathing and mindful movements.

Take care,

Roxy xo

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