Generally, the average person understands that they should include stretching in their daily lives and exercise routines. The question is, when should you be dynamically stretching and when should you be statically stretching, and what are the differences between them?
Static vs Dynamic
Static stretching is an elongation of a muscle to tolerance and sustaining the position for a length of time. Meanwhile, dynamic stretching is a lengthening of a muscle that involves movement and muscular effort for the stretch to occur. Both of these stretches are beneficial in several ways.
Static stretching can improve flexibility by increasing the range of motion of muscles around their respective joints. This creates ease of motion and better efficiency in our movements. It can also improve posture and help to correct any imbalances that have been created in the different muscle groups in the body.
Dynamic stretching consists of functional-based exercises which can be used to warm your whole body up or focus on sport-specific muscle movements. It has several benefits that are especially important before a workout or activity including elevating your heart rate, increasing your body temperature, and helping stimulate your nervous system by enhancing your mind-muscle connection. Similar to static stretching, dynamic stretching also improves the range of motion and flexibility of muscles around the joints.
With all of these facts in mind, we must think about how they fit into our physical activities and exercise routines and when they should be performed. It has been shown that doing dynamic stretching before a workout better prepares the body for our activities by mimicking the movements that will be occurring and gives us all of the benefits that were listed above. Furthermore, static stretching can be saved for after our activities to increase general flexibility, release muscular tension, and reduce the risk of muscle strain, as well as help us relax while we allow our bodies to cool down.
In conclusion, stretching before and after your activity is essential to maintain healthy, uninjured muscles and to increase your overall performance and when you perform them is just as important! If you have any questions about dynamic or static stretching or want ideas for which ones you should incorporate into your routines, contact a personal trainer at Pure! 🙂
Until next time, happy stretching!
Amy Barca B. Kin, CEP, CSCS, FMSC, EIMC2
Anderson B, Burke ER. Scientific, medical, and practical aspects of stretching. Clin Sports Med. 1991;10:63–86. [PubMed]