Stretch Your Knowledge: Static vs. Dynamic Stretching

Live Healthy

Muscles work effectively when joints are able to move through their full range of motion. Stretching can enhance flexibility, which helps improve the range of motion in joints.

It is important for everyone – from professional athletes to weekend warriors – to practice the appropriate stretches before and after a high-power activity in order to decrease the risk of injury.

Static stretching is when you stretch and hold the muscle just beyond its normal range of motion for 15-30 seconds at a time. Static stretching was used for years before workouts until research indicated the pre-lengthening of muscles can reduce the muscle's power output, thus decreasing performance.

However, this does not mean static stretching should be cut out completely.

Following a workout, static stretching can decrease muscle imbalances and reduce future injury by helping re-lengthen the muscles that have been tightened.

Dynamic stretching, which is now recommended pre-workout, is commonly used to prepare the muscles for high-power activities that require a lot of movement. The movement involved in dynamic stretching resembles the moves that are performed on the body during a high-power activity.

Taking a specific movement and making it a stretching activity prepares the muscles for vigorous exercise.

Dynamic stretching brings muscles close to their range-of-motion limit without exceeding it by using controlled movements.

“The thing about dynamic stretching is that it starts to bring blood flow to your body. It warms it up, and that gets you ready for the sporting event you are going to do,” says Dr. Spencer Chang, an orthopedic surgeon at Straub Medical Center's Bone & Joint Center.

Before you try new stretches, make sure you are doing them safely and effectively.  

Watch this YouTube video below to see Chang demonstrate proper dynamic and static stretching techniques.

Published on: May 17, 2015