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Static and Dynamic Stretching

Stretching is incredibly important. Knowing the different types and when they should be done is equally as important. The two types of stretching that should be used are static and dynamic. Both types stimulate different muscular responses. Any kind of stretching is beneficial. It will lead to better performance, increased hypertrophy, reduced stress, increased range of motion,decreased risk of injury, and much much more! However, there is a common misconception around stretching on which and when it should be done.

Static stretching

As the name states, static stretching is static, or held for a long period of time. What this does is lengthen and loosen muscular tissue. Lengthening muscle tissue will increase range of motion, increase blood flow, and relax the muscle. This is where the confusion occurs. It relaxes the muscle.

Muscle spindles and golgi tendon organelles are mechanoreceptors located within the muscle belly and tendon. These receptors are sensitive to change in muscle length and tension and generate an inhibitory response to muscles. This forces muscles to relax so they do not get over stretched and injured. So when a muscle is stretched, this inhibitory response occurs, calming the muscle down and reducing its firing rate. 

If the muscle becomes relaxed and inhibited, it would make for a less effective workout and weakened performance. Thus, static stretching is not the type you want to include pre workout or part of any warm up. Static stretching is best used post workout. When muscles are warm, a deeper stretch can be achieved which will enhance recovery, relaxation, and aid in range of motion in the long run. 

There has been no hard evidence to show that static stretching before an event will help prevent injury or make for a safer, more effective workout. It has a greater chance of doing the opposite or nothing at all.

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretches involve motion and moves the joints and muscles through a full range of motion. These kinds of movements do not hold any deep stretches pushing the muscles to their end range. Instead, it opens up joints and should be included as part of a warm up routine for exercise.

The type of movements that are in dynamic stretches are typically functional movements or movements that mimic the exercise that will be followed. It is meant to prepare the tissue for what is going to be performed at a higher intensity. Dynamic stretching increases range of motion, warms up muscles, increases blood flow, decreases muscle stiffness, and most importantly, does not inhibit the muscle like static stretching would.

Dynamic stretches are not held long enough to stimulate the mechanoreceptor response that would inhibit the muscle and decrease firing rate. Thus, dynamic stretches will not weaken muscular contractions and overall performance. 

Why do both static and dynamic stretching

Two main goals of stretching is that it is meant to increase range of motion and decrease risk of injury. Static and dynamic stretches both do that, it’s just the timing of them that makes all the difference. Dynamic stretching is best done pre workout while static stretching is best done post workout.

Although it is easy to go through a workout with a two minute warm up and forget the cool down, it is extremely important to include both aspects thoroughly. Dynamic stretching warms up the muscles and reduces the risk of injury. Static stretching calms down muscles and increases flexibility for better long term results. 

Examples of static and dynamic stretches

Dynamic stretches should be part of a 5-10 minute warm up moving the body through different movements. Examples of these include:

  • walking lunges with torso rotation
  • walking leg raise with toe touch
  • alternating side lunges
  • butt kickers
  • leg swings

Static stretches should be part of a cool down routine for the muscles that have been worked. Each stretch should be held for 45-60 seconds or until a relaxation response occurs. Examples include:

  • pigeon stretch
  • hamstring stretch
  • king Arthur stretch 
  • butterfly stretch
  • doorway chest stretch

Feel the benefits of stretching and watch yourself perform your best!


Written by Danielle Barker