Stretching: Dynamic vs. Static
Think back to your Physical Education days in elementary school. You might remember your teacher leading you through a series of stretches, some moving, some stationary. The words, “dynamic” or “static” were maybe thrown around. You would simply do the stretches and then immediately start playing floor hockey or dodgeball. But that was the seventh grade.
Fast forward to today and you’re asking yourself, “What is the difference between dynamic and static stretching?” and “When should I do which stretches?”
Let’s break it down.
Dynamic stretching is a series of stretches focused on movement used to warm up your muscles and prepare you for your activity. Think leg swings, a moving lunge, or arm circles.
Static stretching is a series of stationary stretches, focused on elongating muscles and stretching the muscle for flexibility or strength purposes. Often held for 15-60 seconds. Think shoulder stretches, hip flexor stretches, or a knee hug.
Each of these “styles” of stretching are important and useful in specific contexts. One isn’t “better” than the other, but both come into play depending on the exercise you’re doing.
Best time to stretch dynamically:
- When you’re warming up for exercise
- When you’re wanting to get warm
- When you’re focusing on reducing the risk of injury
Best time to stretching statically:
- When you’re finished a workout
- When you’re working on your flexibility
Sometimes you’ll want to stretch a muscle if it feels tight. But that doesn’t always mean it needs to be stretched. Sometimes that tense muscle can be over-working for a different muscle or problem area altogether.
If stretching a muscle is painful, or if you’re unsure of which stretches to do, give us a call or talk to one of our physios when you come in about what kind of stretching is right for you! We’d love to help you out.