Dynamic vs Static Stretching
Dynamic vs Static Stretching
It’s not the physical activity that gets put in the spotlight like weightlifting or athletic training, but stretching is just as important (if not more so). Let’s take a look at the benefits of stretching, how it can help your fitness results and day-to-day activities, and which form is best for you to use.
What is Static Stretching?
Static stretching is the type that you’ll see the most in your local gym. It is when you deliberately move a muscle group into an elongated or lengthened state, and hold that position for a prescribed amount of time, usually 30 to 60 seconds. Remember that static stretching is not passive stretching, where you have a relaxed hold on the muscle. Rather, static stretching involves work on your part by holding the stretch in that lengthened position. It might look boring but it’s active work.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretching can be thought of as a light warm-up via movements similar to the workout to follow. In other words, during dynamic stretching, you aren’t actively holding a stretch such as with static stretching. You are moving and performing very low intensity exercises that are similar to what will follow in your workout. For example, if you will be doing dumbbell walking lunges, then you may perform slow, in-place half lunges as your dynamic warm-up.
Benefits of Stretching
Stretching is often thought of as the optional part of a workout, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. The benefits of stretching can have a positive impact on your fitness results, and overall health.
You’ll Be More Flexible
The primary benefit of stretching is improved flexibility. Having more flexibility can help you inside of the gym environment by improving performance and increasing your functional training ability. More importantly, flexibility can help you in your day-to-day. It promotes proper posture, thereby reducing your risk for posture-related aches, pains, and tension. It may also prevent injury, which we’ll discuss more below. Being flexible supports all of the other benefits on this list.
You’ll Have a Healthy Range of Motion
Try this: Take your arm, raise it above your head. Now slowly and carefully move your arm in a full and wide circle. Were you able to take your arm through a complete windmill with no strain, tension, or pain? If not, don’t worry; most people are lacking a healthy range of motion. Stretching can help.
If your range of motion is limited due to tight muscles, injury, or surgery, stretching has been shown in several key studies to significantly improve range of motion.
You Won’t Be as Sore After Your Workout
Are you in the gym several days per week? Do you go for afternoon walks? Does your job demand a heavy physical toll? Every form of physical activity has the potential to cause delayed on-set muscle soreness, commonly referred to as “DOMS.” Muscle soreness can limit range of motion and flexibility; it can also discourage you from getting to the gym for your workout.
Stretching has been suggested to help with post-workout muscle soreness. While results may vary, even a small reduction in muscle soreness can make a big difference on your physical ability and mental determination.
Stretching Might Decrease Injury Risk
Studies are still conflicting over the question of whether stretching can decrease your risk of injury. Some studies show that subjects did have a lower risk of injury during workouts by stretching beforehand; other studies could not duplicate those results.
Injury risk is dependent upon more than whether you stretch or not; it depends on medical history, physical ability, intensity and volume used during your workout, and several other factors. Stretching might help to reduce your risk of injury, but it certainly will not increase it. Given that stretching has several incredible benefits, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and do it, regardless if it decreases injury risk.
Stretching Might Lower Risk for Disease
One of the benefits of stretching and flexibility that we don’t hear much about, but that might be more important than all the other benefits, is the possibility that stretching may reduce your risk for disease.
Studies show a correlation between those people who have poor core flexibility and a higher rate of arterial stiffening. Why does this matter? Because arterial stiffening is one of the tell-tale risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Recent studies suggest that by increasing your stretching and flexibility, you may be able to decrease the risk of disease.
Dynamic vs. Static: Which One Should I Do?
Is one type of stretching better than the other? No, and in fact, we would recommend performing both dynamic and static stretching. The key is the timing of when you perform them.
It’s recommended to warm-up before performing any type of stretching or exercise. Warming up helps to prepare the muscle for the workload ahead, and it will decrease your risk of straining a “cold” or unprepared muscle.
In general, dynamic stretching is best suited for pre-workout, or before you get involved in an activity. Depending on how stiff and tight your muscles feel, you can perform static stretches before a workout or activity, but make sure you keep the stretch time between 30 to 60 seconds.
After your workout is when you want to use static stretching. This will help to alleviate muscle knots and tension while elongating the muscle. You can hold the post-workout static stretches for 60 seconds or more.
How Often Should I Stretch?
If you want to maximize the benefits listed above, you need to stretch at least five days per week; ideally, you’ll be stretching each day.
Best Daily Stretching Routine
You don’t want to stretch only the muscle groups being used that day. Your body is like a chain-linked fence: everything is connected so what happens at the bottom can impact the top.
We recommend performing one static stretch on each major muscle group. Don’t worry, this won’t take as long as it sounds. Here is a stretching routine you can use each:
• Door Chest Stretch
• Supported Upper Back Stretch
• Child’s Pose
• Across the Body Shoulder Stretch
• Guided Head Tilt
• Standing Quadricep Stretch
• Standing Supported Hamstring Stretch
• Chair Calf Stretch
• Seated Cross-Legged Glute Stretch
• Side Bend
Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Perform the list once, but if you still feel tight, consider going through it a second time. It will take you around 10 minutes to complete.
Check out our video at the top of this page for the full routine.
Do You Stretch Every Day?
If so, what benefits have you noticed? What is your favorite stretch? Tell us about it !