If you research the subject of stretching thoroughly, one thing becomes glaringly obvious. There are conflicting views as to what is or is not true, what you should or should not do and how you should or should not do it.
Basically the latest research does not support all of the information that many fitness 'gurus' have been handing down for years. So what does the latest research say? I'm glad you asked!
1. Stretching is goal specific. Meaning the way you'll stretch as part of your cardiovascular or resistance routine will not be the same as the way you'll stretch for improving your range of motion.
2. Stretching after exercise does not prevent post-exercise muscle soreness. There is also little or no support for the theory that stretching immediately before exercise can prevent either overuse or acute sports injuries.
3. Dynamic or Ballistic Stretching is heading the way of the dinosaur. The forceful, jerky movements have been known to cause micro tears in the muscle fibers. Bouncing and pulling your muscles with force is one way way ticket to soreness, injury and joint pain.
4. Static stretching is one of the safest ways to stretch. After a proper warm-up, assume a maximum stretch position for each muscle and hold for 30 seconds. Shorter durations do not produce desired results and longer durations do not significantly increase benefits.
5. PNF Stretching is a technique which involves a combination of alternating static stretches with isometric muscle contracting. It was first used by physical therapists for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is considered the fastest way to improve range of motion.
6. Visualize while stretching each muscle group. You've got to be 'plugged in' mentally to get the best result. Take this quiet stretch time to improve your body awareness. Focus on what you're doing. Even in a recession, I do not think you're too poor to pay attention.