Fit in static stretching after you've finished running.
The four types of stretching include static, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, dynamic and ballistic. All provide benefits, except for ballistic stretching, which isn't effective at improving your flexibility and can even be dangerous. To be effective, static, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation and dynamic stretching should be performed at a particular time and frequency.
Stretch and Hold
Static stretching is the most common way to stretch. It involves getting into a position where your muscle is elongated and then holding that position for a period of 10 to 30 seconds. Static stretching is effective at significant improving your flexibility, or range of motion, as long as you perform it frequently enough and when your muscles are warm. Fit in one to two sessions of static stretching every day, and schedule your session immediately after your workout or walk for five to 10 minutes before beginning.
With the Help of a Partner
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, or PNF, stretching requires the help of a partner and is effective at improving your flexibility. It incorporates elements of static stretching, but then mixes in a short period of muscular contraction. Your partner will get you into a position where your muscle is elongated and hold you in that position for 10 seconds. With your partner then providing resistance, you'll contract your muscle and try to shorten it for a 10-second period. You'll then relax, and your partner will stretch you again for 10 seconds. Your partner will be able to stretch your muscle further during the second bout after you've contracted it. Make sure your muscles are warm when you perform PNF stretching. To see significant results, incorporate PNF stretching into your daily routine.
Getting Ready for Exercise
Unlike static and PNF stretching, dynamic stretching should be performed before physical activity. It won't improve your flexibility, but it's effective at preparing your body for exercise. Instead of holding your muscle in an elongated position, you're constantly moving while stretching and perform about 10 to 12 reps of each stretch. For example, to target your hamstrings, instead of reaching for your toes and holding that position, you kick your straight leg upward and return it back to the floor so you can kick upward with the opposite leg.
Bouncing and Jerking
Ballistic stretching mimics static stretching, but instead of slowly getting into a position where your muscle is elongated, you bounce or jerk and use momentum in an attempt to force your joint to move beyond its typical range of motion. Because your muscles are never given the opportunity to adjust and relax to their elongated position, they won't lengthen. In fact, ballistic stretching can cause your muscles to tighten further because it activates the stretch reflex, which forces the muscle to contract. The jerking, bouncing movements can lead to muscular strains. Because ballistic stretching is ineffective and dangerous, it's no longer used or recommended by most experts.