Stretching can be a confusing topic for athletes and coaches alike. When the subject comes up, you have everyone saying different things. There's the, "Don't stretch too much before you practice; it will make you slow because you will be too loose;" or the folks that say, "Stretching is a waste of time."
When these conversations come up, I believe it's best to first clarify which type of stretching is being discussed. For time's sake let's stick to just three types of stretching: dynamic, passive and active.
Dynamic stretching consists of gradually moving the limbs, increasing the range of motion and speed with control. This type of stretching is seen in most Dynamic warm ups, like in the video below.
Passive Stretching is done with the assistance of someone - or something - helping you move and holding your limbs to their end range of motion and beyond. In the video below, I use a wall to assist me in a shoulder stretch.
Active Stretching is when you hold yourself in a specific position without the assistance of props or a partner.
I find that most athletes spend much of their stretching time on dynamic stretching, and they often need more active stretching in their daily routines. I often hear athletes say they don't have enough time or that passive or active stretching hurts too much so they avoid it. I'm here to tell you that it won't take more that five to ten minutes to effectively make a difference in your body and this time shouldn't be spent suffering in pain.
When it comes to stretching, the magic sauce is made up of less time, less intensity and more consistency. Incorporate some active stretching into your routine every day for just five to ten minutes, using a full body flow approach like those in the examples below. Note, If you are holding your breath while stretching, you've gone too far. If you are feeling numbness or tingling, you've gone too long. Breathe deeply and slowly, and relax into each position.
If you haven't stretched today, get to work.
Try this Hip swivel for 5 Minutes of alternating sides pausing to sit and twist each side.
This flow will help you attack your low back, hip rotators, and hips flexors all at once.
To read more about how healthy hips are key for developing your true speed in my blog post Healthy Hips for Runners