Based on popular demand, I am going to elaborate more on the following types of stretching from the article Stretching: More on Static, Dynamic, Active Isolated and Resistance. I briefly covered the following without going into any real specific examples:
- Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)
- PNF or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching
- Dynamic stretching
- Dara Torres and Bob Cooley’s Resistance Stretching or Meridian Stretching
Microstretching is a registered trademark with a clinic based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I went there for several sessions way back in 1999, so I am familiar with the techniques used.
In Microstretching, the is key is to relax the nervous system and not to stimulate it. In other words, to effectively stretch a muscle you need to eliminate the potential of a muscle contraction. We all know the stretch reflex will cause the muscle to contract to protect itself.
On the opposite end of the scale, we have gurus teaching your muscles to relax into a stretch such as Pavel Tsatsouline’s Relax into Stretch : Instant Flexibility Through Mastering Muscle Tension. I believe everyone has a limited ROM (range of motion) based on their anatomy and genetics, and there is always room for improvement, but not to the point of joining the Cirque du Soleil contortionist act.
The Microstretching concept is simple with just 3 parameters to consider:
- INTENSITY – 30 to 40% of a maximum perceived stretch
- DURATION – 60 seconds
- FREQUENCY – 3 times per muscle group once per day
For gleuts and hamstrings, it consists of a total of 12 minutes per day (3 sets x 2 each leg x 2 exercises). I recommend using a stopwatch that can repeat a beeper sound every 60 seconds.
I also prefer to do these at night after a shower and dinner. I can watch TV or listen to music for 12 minutes. To save the strain on your neck looking at the TV, get an iPhone or iPad and put it on your chest.
I love the Glute-Piriformis Stretch (outlined below) especially when in the hotel room after travelling and sitting all day.
Sample Microstretching Exercises for Sprinters
These sample stretching exercises are courtesy of Nikos Apostolopoulos and www.microstretching.com
The Glute-Piriformis Stretch
Muscles Stretched: Gluteus maximus, medius and minimus and piriformis muscles
- Place both your feet on the wall making sure that your hip pelvis are firmly on the ground and not floating in the air.
- Place a pillow underneath our head to flatten out your lumbar spine.
- Cross one leg over the other making sure that your ankle is passed the knee joint and hold the gentle stretch for 60 seconds and then switch legs and repeat the stretch for the other leg.
- Repeat each stretch three times per side.
- VARIATION in a sitting position on the floor using hands to balance. But this contradicts the whole SBC – stability balance and control philosophy.
The Hamstring Stretch
Muscle Stretched: Biceps femoris, semi-tendinosus, semi-membranosus.
- Place one leg through a door jam and the other onto the wall.
- Place a pillow underneath your head. Again this is to facilitate a flat lumbar.
- The leg up on the wall should have a slight bend in the knee and the stretch should be felt in the middle of the muscle belly.
- If there is a sensation in the hip flexor region on the straight leg on the ground place a pillow underneath the knee to alleviate this sensation.
- Hold the stretch for 60 seconds and then switch side and repeat the stretch.
- Remember to repeat the stretch a total of three times per muscle group.
More Resources for Microstretching
if you have read this article this far, then you’ll probably be interested in a more detailed research study. See MicroStretching: A New Recovery and Regeneration Technique (PDF, 99Kb)