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All About Stretching

Updated: Feb 29

Stretching is something that is always talked about but never done enough. Part of the reason may be because people don’t know what to do, how to do it and what it really does. We’re here to answer all those questions and more.


The main effects of stretching are increases in flexibility, muscle extensibility and range of motion. Stretching before physical activity has been proven to reduce risk of injury. There are many different stretches you can perform, but there are some that may be more beneficial depending on what your goals are and what you are doing. There are 3 types of stretching: static, dynamicand proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF).


Static stretching:

Static stretching is the most common type of stretching. It involves holding a specific position where the target muscle is on tension to the point of feeling a deep stretching sensation. Static stretching can be performed actively on your own or passively by a partner.


Before physical activity, static stretching is most beneficial as part of a warm up for activities requiring flexibility for their sport (e.g. gymnastics, dance, etc.)


For older adults (>65), static stretches should be held for a longer duration of around 30-60 seconds. Static stretching should be incorporated into daily routine to maintain mobility as we age.


For best results, static stretches should be held for 15-30seconds and repeated 2-4 times. After performing static stretches, the muscle groups and joints stretched should feel looser and have greater range of motion


Dynamic stretching:

Dynamic stretching is a movement based type of stretching that is repeated to increase range of motion, muscle flexibility, active nervous system and muscles


Involves actively moving a limb through its full range of motion and repeating several times


Dynamic stretching is recommended as part of a warm up for activities requiring running or jumping performance during their sport (e.g. running, basketball, soccer)


Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)

PNF stretching involves stretching and contraction of the target muscle. The goal is to achieve maximum flexibility, muscle elasticity and increase range of motion. PNF techniques are best performed with a partner. There are many PNF techniques but the most common type is the contract-relax technique. This involves stretching of the muscle for 10-15 seconds followed by contraction of the muscle for 5 seconds. The muscle is then put into a further stretch held for another 10-15seconds. A relaxation period of 2-5 seconds can be held between repetitions. This can be repeated 2-3 times until end range of motion is reached.


Like any activity, there are some precautions you should take with stretching and contraindications for stretching.


- Do not force a joint beyond its normal range

- Gradually progress stretches

- If you are experiencing pain when stretching, stop


Contraindications for stretching include:

• Joint instability

• Acute fracture

• Diseases affecting tissues being stretched (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis)

• Acute injury – stretching injured tissues in the early stages of healing can cause re-injury and prolong the rehab process

• Vascular injury

• Inflammation or joint effusion

Individuals with any contraindications should consult their practitioner before starting a new stretching routine.


Each person has an individual response to stretching which means that stretching programs should be individualized. Call (647)498-MVMT(6868) or click here to book a session to have your own stretching program made for you!


Selena Chan

Certified Athletic Therapist, Registered Massage Therapist

Please direct any questions about the article or any sports/injury questions to



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