15 Feb Dynamic vs. Static Stretching – Why Bother?
Dynamic vs. Static Stretching – Why Bother?
When used at the right time during your workout, stretching can have incredible benefits and a powerful impact on your flexibility and performance. A combination of dynamic and static stretching is most beneficial due to the effects each have on the muscles.
Dynamic stretching is the constant movement of joints and muscles through a repetitive motion with increasing difficulty. The idea is that you move a body part further with each repetition to build intensity and prepare the body for peak performance prior to the actual event (ie. race or workout). “You want to engage in a dynamic warmup to help prepare your body to handle the demands of the exercise you’re about to put it through”, says Jessi Stensland, a former professional triathlete and creator of MovementU, an online resource for educating athletes about powerful and efficient body movements.
If you want to get the most from your workout, performing dynamic stretches focusing on the muscles you’re about to work is ideal prior to exercise. This not only prepares your joints for movement, it activates your muscles, and reduces the risk of injury due to overuse. For example, ladies, if you’re trying to build your booty, doing dynamic stretches that activate your glute muscles prior your leg workout will allow those muscles to engage more during the exercises that follow, increasing strength, performance, and the ability for the muscle to grow. 🙂
Static (non-moving) stretches are designed to hold joints and/or muscles in a position that is minimally challenging. Rather than warming up the muscles, and raising your internal temperature, the focus of static stretches is on relaxing the body part and allowing it to go further on its own. Because the muscle is already warm post workout, holding the position for 30–60 seconds has the potential to increase flexibility in the tissue. Whereas, if static stretches are done prior to activity, the muscles’ ability to fire may actually be inhibited because they’re loose.
Compare the muscle fibers to a rubber band; the more you stretch and loosen the rubber, the less the band’s ability to snap back. A stretched-out rubber band is like a warm, already used muscle, when performing an exercise, your body needs the ability for the muscle fibers to fire while doing work, and it’s more difficult to do that when they’re stretched out.
Try These Dynamic Stretches (Pre Workout)
Inchworms: Start in upright plank position and walk your feet as close to your hands as possible. When you can’t go further, stop and walk your hands out in front to return to plank. These activate your core muscles (which you use during every exercise) and warms up your entire body.
Lateral Leg swings: Stand sideways next to a wall and swing your outside leg forward and back, increasing the height each time. This will warm up your hip flexors and joints. This stretch is particularly effective for those performing activity that uses a lot of leg power (ex. running).
Walking lunge with twist: Perform deep walking lunges to stretch the hips, twisting torso away from the back leg. This stretch warms up your psoas muscles, core, hips, and back. This is another great way to prepare for a leg workout, run, or any exercise requiring your legs to fire.
Try These Static Stretches (Post Workout)
Frog stretch: While on the ground, open your legs, with knees bent at a 90 degree angle and lay face down to open up your hips and stretch your inner thighs. Turn your toes out and get your knees as wide as possible to get deeper in the stretch.
Quad stretch: While standing, grab the top of your right foot and bring it closer to your glutes while pushing the hips under and forward. Your knee should be pointing straight towards the ground and your hips should maintain in line with each other, focusing on the leg being stretched.
Pigeon: On the ground, bring a bent right leg in front of your body with your left leg straight behind you. Lean forward to stretch your hips and glutes. Note: the further away you move your foot from your hips, the more difficult and greater the stretch.
As always, be sure to listen to your body and consult a doctor when partaking in an exercise regimen or switching your routine. Be safe, and happy stretching!
-Health & Wellness Coach