Static Stretching VS. Dynamic Stretching
You may or may not know that there are in fact different types of stretching. But before even deciding on what kind of stretching you should do at your gym, you might ask yourself why you should warm up before exercising!
Imagine our muscles as rubber bands, the shorter and tighter a rubber band the less force can be produced and the greater risk the rubber band with break. However, when you stretch before exercising you allow your muscles to lengthen and bend more easily preventing injury.
Stretching before exercising has shown the following benefits:
- Increases your flexibility and range of motion
- Increases blood flow to your muscles
- Improves posture
- Enhances coordination
- Is a great stress reliever
Interestingly, however, not all stretches are equal… depending on the exercise you plan on performing afterwards at your gym.
We will be looking into two kinds of stretches: static vs dynamic stretching.
What is Static Stretching?
Static stretching is the most common stretch you will see people preform.
It is the holding of a position that lengthens a specific muscle or muscle group for at least 20+ seconds.
Static stretches are usually preformed in a seated or standing position, but the key is that you remain in a stationary (or static) position throughout the stretch.
For example, if you were targeting stretching your quadricep, you can grab either your left or right foot with the corresponding hand and pull toward your butt. Holding this position will allow your muscles to lengthen.
This would be an example of a static stretch for your quadricep.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
This form of stretching is usually common among athletes before a practice or competition.
Dynamic stretches are a full range of motion movement, this stretch is an active method of warming up, instead of holding the stretch like you would in a static stretch.
One example of this type of stretch is performing jumping or hopping movements, for example, jump squats are a great dynamic stretch. When you perform the squat and jump up, the dynamic movement, can warm up your upper and lower body before exercising.
Which stretch is better?
Different forms of exercising calls for different types of stretching.
For example, if you are an athlete… dynamic stretching can be more effective than static stretching.
If you are looking to improve flexibility… static stretching will help you target specific areas to achieve a deep stretch. In reality, dynamic stretching can also improve flexibility. However, if you aren’t looking to warm up before a practice or competition and just want to increase range of motion, holding static stretches can achieve this goal.
If you are wanting a quick warm up for your daily walk or jog…incorporating both dynamic and static stretching for 5 to 10 minutes can help get your blood flowing and your muscles warm and ready.
If you have muscular or joint stiffness… you’ll want to avoid doing intense static stretching of a “cold” or stiff muscle. In this case performing gentle dynamic stretches can provide an efficient warm up.
The big takeaway
Our bodies cannot be thrown into intense or explosive activity. Unlike sports cars our bodies cannot go from zero to 60 mph in a few seconds. Therefore, we need to stretch in order to warm up our muscles to prevent unnecessary injuries.
Now, depending on the kind of physical activity you’re going to be doing and what your goal is, you’ll want to consider the type of warm up you’ll do beforehand! Whether it’s a dynamic, static or both types of stretching, figure out what is best for you and your muscles!