Updated: Sep 9
Stretching is an important part of exercise because it ensures our body is loose and ready for the upcoming activity. Stretching also improves overall performance and prevents injuries during any activity. But do you know what kind of stretching is best?
The latest recommendations have evolved over the last decade, emphasizing the practice of dynamic stretching as preferable to static stretching.
Understanding The Difference
Dynamic stretching simulates the activity or movement that you'll do in whatever sport or activity you're about to begin. It helps to rehearse the movement patterns so that the muscles get excited a little bit earlier and faster, which can help improve power and coordination."
Dynamic stretching has been shown to significantly improve power, sprint, and jump performance. In terms of warming up, actively moving the muscles improves blood flow circulation. It raises muscle temperature, which lowers resistance and increases flexibility.
Dynamic stretching's growing popularity contrasts with static stretching. Static stretching, as opposed to dynamic stretching, involves moving a joint as far as it can go and holding it for a period of time, typically 30 to 90 seconds.
Static stretching has fallen out of favor as a warm-up routine because research has found that it has some negative effects, such as reducing maximal strength, power, and performance after a single bout of static stretching. The muscles aren't warmed up when you're static stretching, it's really more of a soothing movement. Instead, doing static stretching as part of the cool down process is a better recommendation.
Dynamic stretches to try:
To warm up before a general workout:
Leg and arm swings
For runners (or those playing sports like track-and-field, soccer, rugby or football):
One of the most common running tips, especially for beginners, is to make sure to stretch before and after running. It’s especially important to warm up muscles in the legs and hips, including the hamstrings, quads and hip flexors.
Pre-workout running stretches:
Walking lunges and side-step lunges
Hamstring stretches, such as “moving standing forward stretches” (keep your front foot flexed and back heel on the ground with toes facing up, then gently lean forward and back) or laying down hamstring stretch (lifting one leg and gently pulling it back and forth toward you)
High knees (brining your knees up and in toward your abdomen/chest) or leg kicks (reach your arm to the side, then kick your leg up and out toward your palm)
Hip flexor stretches, such as a deep hip stretch with a twist (similar to a lunge but your hips are lower and back knee may touch the ground)
Laying down hip/leg abduction lifts (while on your side) or clam shells
Lower back stretches, such as “child’s pose” or “cat-cow “(a yoga pose done on all fours while you lift and lower your chest and tailbone)
Wide arm circles
Behind-head tricep stretches
To target your lower body:
Hip flexor stretches, such as laying down knee-to-chest movements
Walking lunges with torso twists
Small hip circles
Squats or jump squats (more advanced)
High knees or leg kicks
Moving glute bridges
Overall, when it comes to comparing the two, both types are beneficial in their own ways, static and dynamic stretches differ from one another based on how they are performed, plus when they are most useful.
Hope that helps.