How Stretching Can Make You Taller,
written by CJ who owns Bikram Yoga Brighton . CJ is a very experienced Bikram yoga teacher who specialises in rehabilitating people out of pain using the 26 hatha yoga postures in the Bikram series.

There are different types of stretching for different types of exercise. Here we will focus on.

  • Active Stretching
  • Passive Stretching

Passive Stretching:

Many people use the term “passive stretching” and “static stretching” interchangeably. However, there are those who make a distinction between the two saying, Static stretching consists of stretching a muscle (or group of muscles) to its farthest point and then maintaining or holding that position, whereas Passive stretching consists of a relaxed person who is relaxed (passive) while some external force (either a person or an apparatus) brings the joint through its range of motion.

Active stretching

Also referred to as static-active stretching. An active stretch is one where you assume a position and then hold it there with no assistance other than using the strength of your agonist muscles (Cooperating Muscle Groups). For example, bringing your leg up high and then holding it there without anything (other than your leg muscles themselves) to keep the leg in that extended position. The tension of the agonists (the quadriceps, thigh muscle )in an active stretch helps to relax the muscles being stretched (the antagonists the hamstings)

Active stretching increases active flexibility and strengthens the agonistic muscles, the quadriceps when holding the leg up.Active stretches are usually quite difficult to hold and maintain for more than 10 seconds and rarely need to be held any longer than 15 seconds.

Many of the movements (or stretches) found in various forms of yoga are active stretches.

Passive Stretching

Passive stretching is also referred to as relaxed stretching, and as static-passive stretching. A passive stretch is one where you assume a position and hold it with some other part of your body, or with the assistance of a partner or some other apparatus. For example, bringing your leg up high and then holding it there with your hand. The splits is an example of a passive stretch (in this case the floor is the “apparatus” that you use to maintain your extended position)

Slow, relaxed stretching is useful in relieving spasms in muscles that are healing after an injury. Obviously, you should take great care with this situation and always seek professional advice, to see if it is okay to attempt to stretch the injured muscles

Relaxed stretching is also very good for “cooling down” after a workout and helps reduce post-workout muscle fatigue, and soreness.

Tired muscles have less elasticity which decreases the range of motion used in your movements. Continuing to exercise when you are tired serves only to reset the nervous control of your muscle length at the reduced range of motion used in the exercise (and will cause a loss of flexibility)