Olympic Weightlifting Resource

Different Types of Stretching
Flexibility is an important aspect when it comes to Olympic Weightlifting. Lack of flexibility can impede progress in weightlifting. Some may find that they are able to just do the lifts and maintain their flexibility while others will have to take a more proactive effort into maintaining their flexibility. As humans age they also lose their flexibility so really incorporation of a stretching routine of some sort will be beneficial throughout life. There are many different ways to stretch out a muscle and listed below are the most commonly heard of types of stretching today and a brief explanation will be given about each specific type.

Static Stretching
This is the most common form of stretching people have heard of and also probably the most commonly used too. Static stretching is about gradually elongating the muscle and how static stretching is done is simply by holding a position to mild discomfort for roughly 10-30 seconds. Static stretching can be done usually twice a day, some do one session in the morning and another session in the afternoon, and most people usually do 2-3 repetitions for each muscle group.

Ballistic Stretching
This form of stretching really is not used too much because of the chances of injury to the muscle or the surrounding soft tissue. However, some believe that is does help increase flexibility, but the chances of injury usually outweigh the potential benefits of this form of stretching. How ballistic stretching is performed is by bouncing into a range of motion that is beyond what the muscle can handle and since it relies on the bouncing motion usually the muscle has not had enough time to relax into the new range of motion, hence an injury can happen.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
Many people recommend PNF over other forms of stretching because they find it to be more effective at increasing the flexibility of the muscle because of how it manipulates the body’s neural mechanisms. PNF combines passive and isometric forms of stretching to help achieve increases in flexibility. PNF is performed by first stretching the muscle with external force, using a partner, bodyweight, etc., and when the limit of the stretch is achieved hold that position for roughly 30 seconds, although the muscle should be contracted during this time, and when the muscle finally relaxes stretch it a little further again, and so on and so forth. Usually PNF is only performed once a day. An example of the technique would be to sit on the floor extend the leg at the knee and put a towel on the end of the foot and pull back on the foot until the stretch is achieved in the calve muscle and then contract the calve muscle and repeat as necessary.

Dynamic Stretching
Dynamic stretching is commonly used as a sport warm-up before physical activity. Using momentum, speed of the movement, muscular contractions enables the body to warm up and get stretched at the same time. Dynamic is very similar to ballistic stretching; however there is no bouncing in dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretches should be performed in repetitions of 8-12.

One important thing to remember is this deals with passive flexibility. Movement dysfunctions can still happen because of altered firing patterns within the muscle and if that is the case more than likely soft tissue work such as SMR should be incorporated and specific warm ups should be done to help get the weak muscles firing correctly and loosen up the tight/overactive muscles from firing at the wrong times.