Stretching is used to lengthen muscles, thus allowing the joints to move more freely. While it is commonly believed that stretching should be done both before and after the workout, recent research has caused experts to assert that static stretching should only be done after the workout and dynamic stretching before. Many clients will skip the stretching portion of the workout, so be sure to emphasize the importance of stretching in injury prevention and the reduction of soreness. At the end of each appointment, spend about five minutes stretching your client or instructing him in how to stretch himself. Being flexible and stretching is beneficial because:
It helps the client relax the muscles he's been working.
It increases range of motion.
It helps improve balance and coordination.
It can help protect the body from injuries during certain activities.
It feels good and leaves the client feeling more relaxed.
Static stretching is the form of stretching that will typically come to mind when people are asked to stretch. It involves moving the joint into a position where there is tension on the muscle, and holding that position for approximately thirty seconds.
You need to show your clients how to stretch safely. Make sure they stretch each muscle group to the point where they feel tension but not pain. Instruct them to hold the stretch for twenty to thirty seconds, and never to bounce. If done incorrectly, stretching can result in muscle spasm or strain.
You may choose to demonstrate the stretches to your client or actually take your client through the movements. If you are considering performing stretches on your client, be sure to obtain their consent beforehand. Not everyone will feel comfortable with this form of contact. The benefit to stretching your client is that you will be able to move the joint further than the client will on his own. Instruct your client to tell you when he feels pressure but not pain.
Dynamic stretching involves lengthening the muscles through movement. This type of stretching is used during the warm-up and will typically mimic the movements to be performed in the upcoming activity. It helps prepare the muscles and joints for the added stressors of weight training, cardiovascular training, or sports training. This is not to be confused with ballistic stretching, which involves bouncing and can cause tissue damage. These movements are safer and more controlled than ballistic stretching.