Stretching Exercise

According to medical dictionary, Stretching exercise is a therapeutic exercise maneuver, using physiological principle, designed to increase range of motion or extensibility of pathologically shortened connective tissue structure. Athletes, players or people use stretching in an attempt to reduce risk of injury, to alleviate cramps and to improve function in daily activities by increasing range of motion. Physiologically, myofibrils of muscle help to stretch muscle.


Stretching is harmful when it is performed incorrectly. In some condition like hypermobility, instability or permanent damage to tendon or ligament and muscle fibre, it’s need to take care about stretching exercise.

Types of Stretching Exercise:

  1. Static Stretching Exercise
  2. Dynamic Stretching Exercise
  3. Pre contraction Stretching Exercise
  4. Proprioception Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching(PNF)
  5. Ballistic Stretching

Static Stretching:

Static stretching is a type of isometric stretching in which elongation of muscle with application of low  force and long duration (usually 30 sec). It’s important to note that these stretches must be pain-free and are often used to enhance the person’s flexibility, especially after sustaining a strain injury to the muscle.

Dynamic Stretching:

Dynamic stretching is a form of active stretching that is performed by engaging the desired muscle’s antagonist through the joint’s range of motion with short duration.

Pre contraction stretching:

According to physio-pedia, this form of stretching involves a contraction of the muscle being stretched or its antagonist before stretching. PNF is the most common type, see below. Other types of pre-contraction stretching include “post-isometric relaxation” (PIR). This type of technique uses a much smaller amount of muscle contraction (25%) followed by a stretch. Post-facilitation stretch (PFS) is a technique developed by Dr Vladimir Janda that involves a maximal contraction of the muscle at mid-range with a rapid movement to maximal length followed by a 15-second static stretch.

Proprioception Neuromuscular Facilitation:

MIT explains that it is not really a type of stretching but a way of combining passive and isometric stretching that result in maximum static flexibility. This type of stretching was originally developed as a treatment for stroke patients.

Ballistic stretching:

Ballistic stretching uses momentum to force a limb beyond its normal range of motion. This is done by bouncing in and out of positions – for example, swinging your leg up on to a bar with force at a height you wouldn’t be able to reach in a controlled movement. For the general population, ballistic stretching is likely not useful and, according to MIT.


Indication of Stretching Exercise:

  1. Restricted Range of motion
  2. Muscle weakness
  3. Muscle contracture
  4. Prior and after vigorous exercise
  5. Any musculoskeletal deformity

Contraindication of stretching exercise:

  1. Unstable or recent fracture
  2. Acute injury
  3. Infection or haematoma
  4. Hypermobility
  5. Post-surgical repair ex: Skin grafts ,tendon repair

Benefits of stretching Exercises:

  1. Improves muscle flexibility and range of motion
  2. Improves balance and co-ordination
  3. Warms the soft tissues thus help to prevent injury
  4. Increase blood flow to the muscle and promote healing
  5. Improve muscle tone ,posture
  6. Decrease pain
  7. Helps to eliminate stress and improve mental acuity

Needs to keep in mind-

  • Don’t bounce during stretching because it can cause injury(
  • During stretching feel tension not pain
  • In chronic condition such as Parkinson’s disease or arthritis, first consult with a physical therapist that set your stretching programme that is needed for you.

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