The traditional method that comes to mind when thinking about stretching is static stretches – where a person benefits from holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. In fact, there are several methods that each has their own unique benefits.
Static stretches consists of holding a joint in a stretched position for a designated length of time. This is usually between 20-30 seconds, allowing the muscle to slowly adapt to the new range of motion. The muscles relax throughout the entire exercise in a passive stretch.
Dynamic stretching consists of moving the body through an increased range of motion using body weight movements like squats and lunges. By moving the body in multiple planes of motion, it helps prepare your body for a hard training session. This is an active stretch since the muscle is contracting and relaxing.
Ballistic stretching involves forcibly moving your body into a greater stretch usually by performing quick, powerful movements. A prime example would be bobbing up and down in an attempt to touch your toes. In general, this type increases chance of injury and does little to actually improve flexibility. Rather, it can cause muscles to tighten up significantly.There are various other advanced techniques that combine elements of both passive and active stretching, typically performed with the help of a therapist.