Static Stretching would have to be the most effective form of injury prevention and recovery technique. Specifically, static stretching will assist in reducing soft tissue and joint injuries.
Relaxation and concentration are so important, and often overlooked, when it comes to stretching. You need to be free of distractions to focus correctly on the stretch. Take yourself inside your body and feel the area you are stretching, become fully aware of the sensations that are happening. This will help with relaxation.
With the goal in mind of lengthening the connective tissue, going too far when you commence the stretch will actually prevent the muscle and tissues from relaxing. The nervous systems activates and works against the stretch thinking that it has to protect itself from injury. Just hold the stretch and as you feel the area relaxing, then allow yourself to go a little deeper. I like to hold a stretch for a count of 15 and then go a little deeper for another count of 15. In total, I hold a stretch for a count of 30.
Breathing & Static Stretching
Breathing is the next critical part of static stretching. Don’t hold your breath at any stage. Breathe through the nose and focus on a nice deep, steady breath. When you are ready to go a little deeper, on the exhalation, relax the muscle and feel the sensations through the body.
I like to also alternate opposite muscle groups that I am stretching. An example is stretching the thigh muscle and then the hamstring muscle. I may use 10 different stretches with each static stretch alternating between thigh and hamstring.
If you are intending to focus on a particular muscle group and you intend to perform a number of repeats of the same stretch, it is important to progress the level of intensity with each repeat of the stretch. Take the progress slow and steady, raising the level of intensity with each repeat of the stretch.
Checklist for static stretching:
- avoid discomfort and pain – learning to feel your body and the sensations that stretching brings you will be able to recognise the difference between stretching sensations and higher levels of pain.
- do not compromise correct technique – it doesn’t matter how deep you get into a position, what matters is how effective the stretch is on the muscles and supporting tissue
- tighter side first – if you can feel that one side of the body is tighter than the other, work this side first. Concentrate and relax into the position.
You may spend 30 minutes to 1 hour on static stretching, maybe more.
What matters is that you feel refreshed afterwards, not exhausted.