However, I find that many people are not familiar with this unique form of stretching. Let me first explain the differences between isometric stretching and regular stretching.
You are probably most familiar with static stretching (regular stretches.). This is the traditional stretching that you learned in school and unfortunately is not the best way to stretch out your ligaments and muscles.
You know what I mean — you place a particular muscle in an elongated position — then you stretch them beyond your normal comfort zone… slowly and then you stay there for a few seconds.
The problem with this type of stretching is that the muscles are slowly being pulled apart and you are actually weakening them. This increases your flexibility and range of motion. However, this can create an unstable joint and leave you more susceptible to injury.
This is very true in your lower back area and of course your knees.
If the muscles supporting these joints are not tight you could cause a strain or even for the joint to popout.
Isometric stretching is the complete opposite of what I described. When you stretch using isometrics you actually are making your weak position stronger and are making your tendons and ligaments tighter able to contract more forcibly while at the same time being flexible.
Sounds like a complete contradiction in terms doesn’t it? Well it’s true!
Here’s the deal of isometric stretching. You can use Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation which is a form of isometric contraction. So for example — if you were to do a side split — first you would squeeze your legs together at the same time tense all the muscles of the leg. You would hold the contraction anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds — then you would relax and you would be able to stretch even further than before. The relaxation response is a normal reaction that your body has.
Using isometric stretching in this way… will allow you to be more flexible and at the same time protect you from injury.