There are several methods of stretching soft tissues. If a player has been injured, the physiotherapist may do the stretches passively. In the pre-match warm up the players do the stretching exercises themselves - this is known as ACTIVE stretching. This requires relaxation and sustained stretching of a muscle. The degree of stretching can be sub-divided as follows:
A SIMPLE stretch is usually used in the rehabilitation of injured players, rather than with fit players. The player should feel very mild tension in the muscle and this should be held for 10 to 30 seconds.
A DEVELOPMENTAL stretch follows on from a simple stretch in that the feeling of tension is present over a greater range of joint movement. This tension should disappear after 15 seconds; if it does not, the player is moving into the drastic range and should ease off. The stretch should be held for 20 to 30 seconds.
A DRASTIC stretch gives the player a constant feeling of pain and should be avoided. This sensation is often wrongly interpreted by the player as being beneficial. In fact this type of stretch causes micro-trauma to muscle tissue, which causes a gradual loss of elasticity and increases the risk of muscle injury.