About a year ago I learnt that there were two types of stretching I could incorporate into workout routines to help me get the most out if my workouts. The first, static stretching, I was familiar with. Dynamic stretching however, I hadn’t practiced much before. Although the more I read about it, the more I realised its importance to help me improve my performance (regular stretching can improve force, jump height, and speed) and prevent injury. So I’ve put together an easy to read article that explains the differences between these, when you should use each, along with a chart of examples you can try at home. Don’t think this distinction is just for the pro athletes! It’s for everyday people (like you and me!) who just want easy exercises and stretches to help their bodies to work at their best. Remember – knowledge is power…so get reading!
What is the difference between dynamic and static stretching?
What are static stretches?
Static stretches are the more traditional stretches that you hold for 15-30 seconds whilst putting pressure on a specific muscle, to the point of slight discomfort but not pain. These are still my favourite type of stretches!
Examples of static stretches
Examples of common static stretches you could try at home (or at the gym) can be seen in the image below.
Image via Spotebi.com
Static yoga pose stretches
If you like yoga or want to have a REALLY decent stretching session to increase your flexibility, try my static yoga poses.
When should you use static stretches?
Static stretches are best used after your physical activity, when the body is warm. For example, after a session of this 5km running program. Try not to bounce during the stretch, but instead, as you feel comfortable you can try to slowly increase the range of your stretch when you exhale. Both of these practices help prevent injury.
Using static stretching after a workout helps increase the blood circulation and elongating the muscles which helps reduce tension and delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS).
What are dynamic stretches?
Dynamic stretches are slow and controlled movements that move joints and muscles through a complete range of motion. These are particular to the exercise you are about to do and the idea is that this mimics the motions that you’re about to perform. For instance, if you were about to do a lower body weights session, you would focus on exercises like a hamstring leg swing.
As mentioned earlier these are controlled movements so make sure at the end of range of motion they aren’t vigorous or bouncy.
When should you use dynamic stretches?
Dynamic stretches are best used before you workout, to help warm up your muscles. The dynamic stretches increase your heart rate which also elevates body temperature, assisting your muscles to move with less effort. It also kicks your nervous system into gear, which makes your brain talk to your muscles.
Examples of dynamic stretches
Some examples include high knee jogging, arm circles, torso rotations and walking lunges. Here are a few you can try below – try to pick ones which are similar to the movements that you’ll be performing in your activity, or that use similar muscle groups.
Image via Spotebi.com
What sort of stretches do you do? Do you have a favourite stretch? Do you see a difference in the results you get from your workouts? Let me know in the comments below – I would LOVE to hear what you’ve found works best!