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Are You Stretching Incorrectly: Static vs Dynamic Stretching

Static Stretching

Static stretching is a type of stretch that involves stretching your muscle to the farthest point possible and holding it, with no other movement involved, for a prolonged period of time – often held from 15 – 60 seconds to promote muscle relaxation (1)

Negative Effects of Static Stretching

Static stretching can be harmful to muscles before a workout – static stretching asks the body to relax prior to having them perform

It causes your muscles to stretch and an elongated (relaxed) muscle is not prepared for vigorous activity, potentially increasing the risk for injury and hindering performance

Muscles may actually lose flexibility when they are overworked – like what happens when you continually stretch a rubber band – the muscles become limp

If you overstretch your muscle and then demand a power activity, your muscles don’t have the power or force that it would if they hadn’t been stretched – the elastic energy of a tighter muscle has more recoil and power than a heavily stretched muscle

Static stretching can, in some cases, result in muscle damage by creating micro tears in the muscle – just like when you work out, your muscles become slightly damaged via the process of overloading them in order to grow back bigger and stronger, or in the case of stretching, more flexible

When you stretch too much before a workout with non-warmed up muscles, you’re making it more likely that you’ll get inured

Additionally, it has been shown that it actually decreases the blood flow within your tissue creating localized ischemia (a restriction in blood supply) and lactic acid buildup. This can potentially cause irritation or injury of local muscular, tendinous, lymphatic, and neural tissues (2)

Study (6)

A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, conducted by researchers in Croatia at the University of Zagreb, looked at a total of 104 previous studies on stretching and athletic performance

The researchers only looked at studies where only static stretching was used to warm-up; excluded past experiments where people stretched but also jogged or otherwise actively warmed up before exercise

Found that static stretching reduced muscle strength by about 5.5% (and more when a stretch is held for 90 seconds or more), reduced muscle power by 2% and reduced explosive muscular performance by almost 3% (5,6)

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both

Dynamic stretching consists of controlled leg and arm swings, such as walking lunges, squats or arm circles that gently take you to the limits of your range of motion

Dynamic stretching is the preferred method for warming up because it increases heart rate, facilitates movement, activates the nervous system, and stimulates blood flow

These movement-based stretches not only warm up your muscles core temperatures correctly, the stretches are associated with the mobility and eccentric movements you’ll be doing during training

By bringing muscles close to their range of motion limit, though not exceeding it, your muscles are better prepared for any activity ahead (4)

When to do Static vs. Dynamic

While static stretching is may not be preferable for warming up, it does have its place – Static stretching maintains value in the rehabilitation of an injury and after a workout; this type of stretching can improve your joint range of motion, and the blood flow to muscles

Static stretching and flexibility training can give people a wider range of motion in their joints, which can help them to perform their daily activities and improve balance and posture

Dynamic stretching → warm up, Static stretching → post workout

References

1) STRETCHING AND FLEXIBILITY – Types of Stretching. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://people.bath.ac.uk/masrjb/Stretch/stretching_4.html

2) The World’s Worst Warm-up: Why Static Stretching Leaves Us Weak. (2013, April 4). Retrieved from https://greatist.com/fitness/stretching-dynamic-warmup-040413

3) Why Stretching May Not Help Before Exercise | TIME.com. (2013, April 8). Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2013/04/08/why-stretching-may-not-help-before-exercise/

4) Which is Better: Static or Dynamic Stretching. (2017, October 21). Retrieved from https://www.cbphysicaltherapy.com/static-vs-dynamic-stretching/

5) Reynolds, G. (2016, March 15). Reasons Not to Stretch. Retrieved from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/reasons-not-to-stretch/

6) Simic L , et al. (n.d.). Does pre-exercise static stretching inhibit maximal muscular performance? A meta-analytical review. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22316148

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