My natural instinct is to cringe whenever I hear the word stretch. It seems the majority of people I talk to have the preconceived notion that static stretching – where you hold a muscle under light to moderate tension for 10-60seconds – is the best (or only) way to achieve soft tissue extensibility.
Nothing Could Be Further From The Truth
While the stretching techniques you learned in 3rd grade gym class may provide short term relief from tension and/or have therapeutic applications, any increase in range of motion (ROM) is likely to be passive. That is, you gain additional extensibility beyond a range in which you have any meaningful control.
Fortunately, there are more effective techniques to improve active ROM: Resistance training through a full range of motion, Muscle Activation Therapy, active-isolation stretching and dynamic ROM techniques are a few of my personal and professional favorites.
As far as I’m concerned, it is almost always preferable to have a limited (but protective) active ROM (as with anything in life, there will always be exceptions) then it is to be passively loose and “floppy”.
Just Because It Feels Good Doesn’t Mean It’s Good For You
While it may be intuitive to think that more is better (especially when it comes to range of motion), passive flexibility may allow you to move into ranges where risk for injury is actually increased.
What good is feeling all “loose-y goose-y” if all it really gives you is a better chance of getting hurt?