Nov 23, 2015

Are you stretching correctly? Dynamic vs Static Stretching.

Over the years, beliefs about stretching and exercise have changed. It was once believed to be incredibly important to stand and stretch (in a static stretch) prior to any exercise and failure to do so would undoubtedly increase your risk of injury.

More recently though, research has proven that this may have been incorrect and static stretching prior to exercise could actually lead to higher risk of injury. However, I still see a lot of people following the old recommendations of intensive static stretching prior to exercise so I thought it might be time to explain what the most recent recommendations are to help you avoid unnecessary injuries.

Before we go any further though I think it's important to explain the difference between two of the more well-known types of stretching:

Static Stretching:

A type of stretching performed while the body is still or at rest. The aim being to gradually lengthen a muscle to to the point of slight discomfort and hold for at least 30 seconds.  It was once recommended by experts that static stretching be performed after warm up and before exercise.

Dynamic Stretching:

A type of active stretching performed with momentum where the end position of the stretch is not held.  Dynamic stretching prepares the body for exercise by gently extending range of movement and increasing blood and oxygen flow to muscles. Unless your sport specifically requires flexibility (such as dance or gymnastics) then current recommendations indicate that when performed correctly, dynamic stretching has been found to be safer and more effective than static stretching, and when used prior to exercising, it can increase sporting performance and reduce the risk of injury. Some examples of dynamic stretches are leg swings and walking lunges.

If you're not sure how to perform dynamic stretching, there are plenty of resources and videos on the web that will show you how, but the best way to figure out which dynamic stretches you will need to do is to think about the movements that you will be performing during exercise and whilst warming up your body, slowly and gently perform those movements gradually increasing your range of motion to the point you will be using during exercise. What this looks like for me on the track is a warm up including walking and runs that gradually increase in speed, then some dynamic movements that move and gently stretch the major body parts that I utilise for sprints and hurdles.

Static stretching definitely still has it's place, but the ideal time for a long, static stretch is actually after exercise to help with recovery.  Static stretches are only performed at the end of our sessions and I find it really relaxing after a session to sit or lay down and work through my static stretches.  Give it a try but just make sure you have a comfortable surface to do them on (yoga mats are the best). If you need a little help holding your stretches, resistance bands can also be a great help.

So before you start your next workout, remember to keep things in this order:

1.  Warm Up
2.  Dynamic Stretches
3.  Workout
4.  Cool down
5.  Static Stretches

This post was written by Aanika and made possible by Fitness Market where you can purchase the  fitness equipment discussed in this post.

References:  Kravitz, Page 2012, WebMD, Anderson 2005, Shrier 2000

1 comment:

  1. Both stretchings i.e dynamic and static are bit tricky. We have to do it with full concentration in order to perform it corcectly. Thanks for the further guidance regarding these both types of stretching.


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