What is better for your strength, flexibility, and mobility: Static Stretching vs Dynamic Stretching. Learn why the method you might use is outdated and doing more harm than good.
Stretching is one of the first things you learn when it comes to physical fitness. We’re usually taught how to stretch in physical education in elementary and middle school.
Now that we’re adults, I know most of us aren’t too concerned with stretching. And we rarely do so unless we are feeling sore or injured.
But, if you start stretching now, you can actually prevent injury, improve mobility, and strengthen your stability. After working so hard to build muscle, make sure you take good care of them as they grow.
Importance of Stretching
There are so many benefits of stretching every day. Especially if you’re like me and work at a desk job. Because we are mostly sedentary, we really need to make sure we are taking good care of our muscles.
When we sit for long periods of time our muscles literally shorten, losing range and strength. So when you to go use your muscles, like say pick up your toddler or change the gallon jug, you throw your back out or strain your shoulder. Inactivity followed by sudden exertions of force is a recipe for damage.
Consistent and regular stretching sustains and improves the range of motion for your muscle and joint, literally making them stronger.
When your muscles are strong and flexible you are much more likely to avoid injury in the gym and playing sports. You will even have better posture and balance.
We can actually prevent injury, relieve muscle tension, and lessen muscle soreness by consistently stretching every day. When you’re working out, either in the gym or out, you need as much strength as possible.
Static Stretching (The old way).
Odds are you’ve been static stretching your whole life. You stretch to position, hold it for a specific amount of time, and then release. This is called static stretching or inactive stretching.
Recent research has shown that this traditional method of stretching is actually more harmful than good. Because of the long pause, the muscles shorten, just like if you hadn’t stretched them at all.
Shortened muscle length limits mobility, power, and strength which can cause strain, tears, and sprains, effecting ligaments, joints, and muscles. Ultimately, everything you’re trying to correct, static stretching can cause.
Dynamic Stretching (The new way).
Active stretching or dynamic stretching is the new method being used by professional athletes and trainers to reduce injury and improve performance.
Instead of reaching position and holding in that place, dynamic stretching involves continuous movement. You slowly sink into position, and hold at the end of the range just for a second or two, and the control yourself back out of the position.
Coaches have developed specific dynamic stretching routines to optimize warming up not just muscles, but also breathing and heart rates. Recent research has shown that Dynamic Warm Up Routines are superior for muscle performance, power, and strength in athletes when used for six weeks instead of static stretching.
Static vs Dynamic Stretching
If you are new to dynamic stretching I highly recommend a one-on-one training session with either a physical therapist or certified personal trainer.
Ensure that they are knowledgeable about proper dynamic stretching techniques and customize a warm up routine tailored to your intentions and goals.
It is also important to make sure they consider your physical anatomy and ability. Many times there are small tweaks we can make to receive even more benefit.
You can also check out this Youtube video to the right by a fantastic channel, Athlean-X. This is a great video showing a few different easy dynamic stretches that you can incorporate into your life.