Active stretching also sometimes referred to as static-active stretching, is one where you assume a position and then hold it there with no assistance, other than using the strength of your opposite (agonist) muscles.
An example is bringing your leg up high and then holding it there without anything (other than your leg muscles themselves) to keep the leg in that extended position. The tension of the agonists in an active stretch helps to relax the muscles being stretched (the antagonists) by something called reciprocal inhibition.
Active stretching increases active flexibility and strengthens the agonistic muscles. Active stretches are usually quite difficult to hold and maintain for more than 10 seconds and rarely need to be held any longer than 15 seconds.
Active stretching is great during a warm up as it doesn’t allow for more than our body can tolerate, which significantly decreases the risk of injury. It also helps strengthen and warm the agonists which in turn can lead to improved performance.
Many yoga routines contain active stretches.
Here are some examples of active stretches for you to try out:
- Laying on floor and lifting your leg to the ceiling until you can feel the stretch in your hamstring
- Standing, pull your heel towards your glutes until you can feel the stretch in your quad.
- Sitting on the floor legs extended, pull your toes towards your body until you can feel the stretch in your calf.
If you have any questions about stretching be sure to ask a Member of Team SF – firstname.lastname@example.org