I know that there are different types of stretching, such as dynamic and static. How many other types of stretching do exist and what are the basic differences between them?
Basically there are four types of stretching:
Static: you hold a position, not really bouncing around on it. This is what most athletic stretching tends to be since it's the easiest, doesn't require a partner, and is what most of us learned in PE class.
Dynamic: this very much looks and acts like a warmup. As an example, a golfer might start practicing swings right up to the normal range of motion until they feel limber enough to operate through the normal swing range. A weight lifter might start squatting the bar, increasing through weights until they are comfortably moving through their full range of motion.
Ballistic: generally, this is where you use inertia or a bit of help to stretch beyond your range of motion. An example of this would be to hold onto a dumbbell when bent over, which will cause your body to bend more than if the weight wasn't there. Adding a bit of a bounce will make it ballistic. This type of stretching is generally frowned on for being an injury magnet.
PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation): this is a bit advanced, and typically only seen performed by professional trainers. It's a combination of muscular contraction followed rapidly by isometric contraction. You can sort of play with this one yourself by flexing your bicep with your fist against your shoulder (knuckles down), which should make your bicep cramp up a bit. Then extend your arm and stretch your bicep (usually by having your fist at an angle against a wall with your arm extended), while contracting your bicep a bit. Generally this type of stretching requires a partner.
You didn't ask about these, but I'll toss them in because they're relevant. Ivo has a great answer from nearly ten years ago that is still current regarding stretching. Boiled down, what I've found is:
- It's a good thing to have a wide range of motion.
- That wide range of motion should come from activities that cause you to use your body, as opposed to simply being flexible for the sake of flexibility. Not that the latter is inherently bad, but the former is certainly better.
- You should warm up your body before strenuous exercise.
- Whether you want to call it dynamic stretching or warming up, a good warmup will progressively allow you to safely handle the load you're about to introduce, through a wide range of motion (which you have, because you're fit and exercise properly, right?).
- So if you have a great range of motion for your great full body exercises you do, and you can dynamically-stretch-warmup your way into them, I think this is where the question often comes up with "what are you statically stretching for"?