Do you start your workout by stretching? If not, you should be in order to prevent injury. If you do, are you doing effective stretches and are you doing them correctly? There are two different types of stretches: static streching and dynamic stretching. In this blog, we will define, describe, and explain some common differences between the two stretching techniques and when they should be utilized.
The term static stretching refers to stretching exercises that are performed without movement. In other words, the individual gets into the stretch position and holds the stretch for a specific amount of time. Static stretching is the most common form of stretching among anyone working out in the gym, outside, at the office, or playing sports. Static stretching is used in many ways, however, not all are beneficial to your workouts or health.
The term dynamic stretching (sometimes called active stretching) refers to stretching exercises that are performed with movement. In other words, the individual uses a swinging or bouncing movement to extend their range of motion and flexibility. Dynamic stretching is a lesser known form of stretching because its purpose is not well understood by many people.
The difference between the two is the use of motion, the amount of time muscles are being stretched, and how far the muscles are being stretched. These three factors can have profound differences on the results you’re going to get, either in your workout or after your workout. Ultimately, these three factors are all connected.
Movement is the main difference, which helps determine the outcome of these stretches. Dynamic stretching is a movement-based stretching style which has two purposes. The first is to get you ready for the workout or sport you are about to do and the second is to prevent injury. Dynamic stretching accomplishes these by not overstretching the muscle before a workout or activity. Static stretching is good for making maximum improvements on range of motion but can often overstretch a muscle before a workout because of the amount of time the stretch is being held and how far the stretch is on the muscle.
Overstretching before a workout is bad for one main reason, which can have a multitude of problems that go along with it. Your muscles have receptors in them that tell your brain how far your legs, arms, or thighs are moving. By overstretching your muscles, you are overstretching these receptors, which ultimately control how well your muscles function before a workout. When you overstretch, you risk injury. Consider what would happen if you tripped and started to fall after overstretching. You would risk a greater chance of the muscles that are supposed to catch you to not function properly, resulting in a pulled/torn muscle or ligament, or falling to the ground, which could have other detrimental results depending on your age and health.
Both stretching styles have their place in your workout. However, timing is critical. Dynamic stretching, if done properly, should be done at the beginning of your workout along with a warm-up to get your body ready to move and function at its peak. Static stretching should be done at the end of your workout or tennis match because your muscles are fully warmed up. That is the best time to improve range of motion while avoiding injury. Either way, stretching is a great way to improve overall functional movement and it makes you feel great!
I hope you have been enlightened on what types of stretches to use and when. If you would like a demo of some stretches or a full fitness evaluation, feel free to contact me and we can set up some appointments to get you started with a new exercise program designed just for you!
Matthew has a B.S. in Sports and Exercise Science from Wisconsin Lutheran College, is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, and Certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). He specializes in Sports Performance, Strength and Conditioning, Injury Prevention, Health and Wellness, & Functional Training. Matthew lives by the philosophy of “Anything worth having is worth fighting for” – Susan Phillips and he believes that if you want something, then go get it, and don’t stop till you do.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.