Types and Benefits of Stretching/Flexibility Exercises

There are different types of stretching that are used by Strength and Conditioning Specialists as well as personal trainers to prescribe them to their clients. Stretching has shown to improve range of motion (ROM) around the joint immediately after performing flexibility exercises and has shown chronic improvement after 2-3 times per week for about 3-4 weeks of regular stretching (1). Postural stability and balance can also be improved by engaging in flexibility exercises especially when combined with resistance exercises (1).

Flexibility exercises should target the major muscle tendon units of the shoulder girdle, chest, neck, trunk, lower back, hips, posterior and anterior legs, and ankles. Volume for all of these stretches or reasonable target time should be around 60 seconds per flexibility exercise. There are different types of stretching but in this blog we’ll cover dynamic or slow movement stretching, static stretching and my favorite proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation or PNF.

Dynamic stretching involves gradual transition from one body position to another and a progressive increase in reach and range of motion (ROM) as the movement is repeated several times (1). This type of stretching is preferred most by coaches due to research from scientist where it does improve athletic training and athletic competitions compared to static stretching.

Static stretching involves slowly stretching a muscle/tendon group and holding the position for a period of time anywhere between 10 and 30 seconds (1). Just like dynamic stretching there is a lot of research to show the benefits. Coaches use this to avoid injuries, increase range of motion and enhance performance. Sports like gymnastics is a great example where static stretching should be used due to its focus on increasing ROM. Based on research this type of stretching may not influence strength, power, running speed, endurance performance, reaction time as good as dynamic stretching does (2).This is where strength and conditioning coaches need to look at the specific range of motion and stretch-shortening cycle requirements of the sport or activity and use this information to design an appropriate warm-up routine (2).

Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation or PNF methods take several forms but typically involve an isometric contraction of the selected muscle/tendon group followed by a static stretching of the same group. Recommendation is 20%-75% maximum voluntary contraction held for 3-6 seconds followed by a 10-30 second assisted stretch (1).

In summary, stretching is important for general population members that are trying to lose body fat, weight or inches and is as important for athletes looking to improve their performance on the field/court. Strength and conditioning specialists as well as coaches have to do a better job implementing personalized stretching programs with their members/athletes. In blogs to follow we will include examples of each stretching methods that will be available for everyone to download.

Rade Jankovic-RJ (CSCS)
Bay Area Sports Performance and Fitness
4190 112th Terrace North Unit C
Clearwater FL 33762
(727) 656- 9512


  1. Pescatello, L., Arena, R., & Riebe, D. (2013). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise testing and Prescription (9thth ed.). Wolters Kluwer.